By Manish Anand
World economy is now rebooting. The western world is decoupling with China. Youth unemployment in China is now stated to be 17.1 per cent. Xi Jinping, Chinese President, is staring at pressure cooker blast situation, which could take China into an unchartered territory and even a possible violent uprising.
Within the military circle, it is well-known that skirmishes across the line of actual control keep taking place, but they have largely been verbal feud or fisticuffs at the most. But the skirmishes, including the latest in the Yangtse in Arunachal Pradesh, which was on the pattern of the Galwan Valley battle in 2020 in eastern Ladakh, is being assessed in the strategic domains to take worrisome seriousness. That will be on account of Xi increasingly becoming more insecure within the Communist regime in China.
Indian polity remains divided on ways to deal with China. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has sought to pin down on the mat Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Yangtse skirmish. Congress is building the political pitch on a ‘weak PM’ theme. This is in counter to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s muscular nationalism, which gained muscles following the surgical strikes carried out against the terror launch pads in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir.
This political divisiveness deprives India of a consensus strategy in dealing with China. Major General (Retd) Shashi Asthana has argued, while writing for Modern Diplomacy, that India too should have a law on defence of border on the lines of the Chinese law, which will give a statutory backing to the infrastructure upgradation across the LAC and the international borders. This indeed is in the context of some of the governments in New Delhi having been cold to the idea of building a robust border infrastructure.
The November data for China was gloomy. Retail sales went down by 5.9 per cent against the estimate of negative four per cent, industrial output was just 2.2 per cent against the estimate of 3.5 per cent, fixed asset investment was abysmal at 0.7 per cent, home sales dived by a whopping 31 per cent, while property investment took a 20 per cent beating. Data tells a dreadful future of China, which when faced with the full might of the global de-coupling can bring the Chinese economy crashing to a level that could set off a popular uprising, and that could be a ground for Xi to make LAC with China a tinderbox.
“People’s republic of China (PRC) refused to ratify the Simla Agreement of 1914, signed between British India and Tibet, initialled by Chinese representative. The Indian stance on Border generally follows Johnson Line (1865) in Ladakh and McMohan Line in East,” wrote Major General (retd) Asthana.
It may be known that China has accepted the McMohan Line with Myanmar. But with India, Xi has a domestic politics to play with and an economy that is nosediving and restlessness against the oppressive regime increasing. China pushing for more could be testing its luck.
Manish Anand is a senior journalist and views express are personal.