The Doklam miscalculation: (Indian Express, Editorial)
- The ongoing stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Doklam tri-junction area looks like a calculated provocation, the underlying strategic motives as also the timing of this action, remain unclear.
- Is it a warning to India about its deepening US relationship; or a move to prise Bhutan out of the Indian embrace; or to express annoyance with the Indian rejection of OBOR? Or is it a combination of all the above and the intent is to “teach a lesson” to a disconcertingly resurgent India?
China’s present condition
- China is presently confronting critical issues of strategic import, such as the North Korean crisis, the deepening US defence relationship with Taiwan, the rising tensions in the South China sea.
- To add is the logic and the timing of the confrontation with India in a remote corner of the Himalayas.
- President Xi Jinping is also coming up for re-election for a second term in the crucial 19th plenum of the Communist Party to be held in October.
- An armed conflict could risk derailing the OBOR project in which Xi is heavily invested.
- When Xi took over in 2012, China stood tall among the ruins of Western capitalism devastated by the great recession of 2008.
- The most important task facing the Chinese economy was the rebalancing necessary to address the structural problems created by the weakening of the export engines and the over reliance on investment, which together had been the primary drivers of its spectacular growth.
- Since China requires rising prosperity to justify the draconian curbs on individual freedoms, allowing growth to slow is a risk which Xi has been unwilling to take.
- In effect, the Chinese economy remains precariously leveraged and investment-driven with escalating risks of a hard landing in the future.
- On the political front, Xi’s anti-corruption campaign mainly targeted at opponents has fostered fear and riven the party into several factions.
- Thus, despite Xi being designated as “core” leader and his re-election for another term virtually certain, the insecurity in the party leadership is palpable.
- Growing state repression is an expected response from an authoritarian regime to internal problems.
- Under Xi, this has been accompanied by an aggressive articulation of territorial claims as an important plank of foreign policy.
Issue of Doklam
- The Doklam issue is almost certainly a Chinese miscalculation.
- It was likely born of the confidence that the strategy of threats and belligerence, which proved so effective against some South-East Asian nations.
- However, given the unwavering stand taken by India, supported by Bhutan, there do not appear to be any winning options for the Chinese at present.
- The abiding India-China hostility is only partly explained by a shoving for strategic space between powerful neighbours .
- The threat to China from a rising India is not military. It is from the demonstration effect of a successful democracy which could prove potentially destabilizing to a totalitarian system under visible signs of strain.
No signs of Chinese build-up: (The Hindu)
- China echoed its demand that Indian troops should pull out from the Doklam plateau in Bhutan by pointing to Beijing’s concerns regarding the revamp of India’s border infrastructure.
- Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that there would be “utter chaos” if Chinese troops entered Indian territory in order to counter New Delhi’s moves to improve its military infrastructure along the China-Indian frontier.
- The Indian claim of illegally crossed the boundary on the excuse of Chinese road building is ridiculous, vicious and facts are clear,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
- “Does that mean when China thinks that large-scale construction of infrastructure at the border area of India is posing a threat, it can enter Indian territory? Wouldn’t that be utter chaos?” Ms. Hua added.
- Her remarks follow the conduct of live drills by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at an unknown location, seemingly to reinforce the perception that a military option in Doklam was under active consideration.