On Wednesday, we saw Chinese Govt talk of “peaceful resolution” etc. Even a top level call by Chinese FM Wang Yi to our Jaishankar for the same reason. Their media was pretty muted while accepting there were Chinese soldier causalities. Their social media in Weibo and Wechat got throttled as soon as the border clash started trending. The CCP Wu Mao trolls took over and started talking about “not escalating national passions” and “responsible behavior by citizens”.
So all the Bakths and hyper nationalists here are chest thumping as if Indian Army’s severe response to their aggression was a lesson that the Chinese have backed away. Even sensible people due to emerging nationalism seem to think China is backing off. Forget this, experts on TV claim again the PLA is vacating and moving back, etc.
But here’s what I can confidently tell about the CCP - whatever they are talking and showing in media is a lie. It is a screen to something more sinister. Since we can be sure about this, let’s try to figure out the sinister plan.
As I have been saying, they want a short conflict with a claim of victory to take home. This is to create hyper nationalism and increase support for the CCP while it falters on its economic promise to its people and use people’s support to shore up sagging support for Xi within the party itself. China, CCP, and Xi cannot afford a conflict that stretches anymore than 10 days. Even a 5 day conflict may be very severe and weaken China no matter it wins or not. Not good when many countries are staring down on it with a US hell bent on containing its rise.
So for achieving such a short conflict and retreat, they need to catch India unaware at a place and time of their choosing. That will not be Ladhak most probably as Indian build up is severe in the region. And everyone is watching the space because of the recent severe escalation. As they have now successfully diverted attention in Ladhak, they will show they are pulling back only to strike a little later in the east at Sikkim or Arunachal or even Uttar-K&P near Nepal border.
But, at the same time, their dog(s) WILL be ready to bite us. To restrain and pull us from deploying our full force east to counter China.
Like this, they will achieve their aim. China will quickly be in and out, cause casualties, grab land, and de-escalate as we grapple with our western neighbor. It will immediately start its propaganda that India is the provocateur and China has taught a lesson. This will be a mega hit movie nationally in China for Xi.
The ground work about India being provocateur has already been done this week by official press briefings that India came into Chinese territory and provoked, and even unofficially by accepting casualties on its side to show India as the aggressor. It will then help Pakistan too by using international pressure on India to de-escalate with Pakistan.
I feel I have a good grasp of CCP thinking and ways. And this is how it may work. I just hope it doesn’t, and even if it gets to that, India must be prepared as I know there are experts in Indian establishment who would have already thought and planned for this scenario.
(Photo below: A thousand year old sculpture depicting a Chinese back stabbing a Tamil at Sri Ranganathar Temple, Sri Rangam. We can’t say we weren’t warned!)