And then, there is China; inscrutable China who, through decades of opaque propaganda positioned itself as a superpower that would brook no opposition. The lesser we understood it, the more formidable it became in our collective minds. Without firing a shot, much less waging a war, China became a superpower in our collective imagination. What will China think? What will China do? What will China’s position on this or that be? These questions were often asked in Parliaments and Senates across the world. So less was actually known about China that after the Indian surgical strikes in PoK, many Indian were waiting for China to react. Some even thought that China might attack.
Nothing happened. That is the moral of the Chinese story. The dragon breathes fire, but the dragon does not go to war. The dragon is wise. This is exactly what is happening in the icy landscape of Doklam. The Indian and Chinese armies are eyeball to eyeball. Not one shot has been fired. Instead of missiles, we have Chinese newspapers writing editorials. These very editorials quote the mood of the Chinese nation, giving veiled hints to India that the Chinese nation is itching for war. We have armchair experts telling India that China could attack through Kashmir. All is pure and distilled hogwash. I always thought Chinese propaganda would be better than Chinese goods. I am disappointed.
China will not attack. Forget that the area of activity was in Bhutan. Forget that China was building a road. China will not attack. It is all bark and no bite.
China has been defeated in war by tiny Vietnam. It is possible to defeat China, and China knows this. In the area of the current standoff, India is at a strategic and tactical advantage. If China attacks, it needs a numerical superiority of 9:1, at least. To engage every Indian soldier, it needs to launch 9 Chinese soldiers into battle. Some thinkers even say that for the Chinese to have even a fleeting chance of success, the ratio must be as high as 10:1. China simply does not have those kinds of numbers.
This face-off was premeditated. It had to happen. After India opposed One Belt One Road (OBOR) and by extension the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), India had to be “taught a lesson”. It started off with Pakistan pushing the envelope in Kashmir after the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Truth be told, Burhan Wani was no Hafiz Saeed. He was a small time militant who was fond of posing for photographs, holding weapons, duly clad in combat uniform. He loved to flash his made-up persona for the ladies. He was involved in the killing of civil functionaries and also planning the killing and ambushing of security forces.