Dealing with the Darned Dragon-V: Time to Kowtow!?

Sino-Indian border talks have been roiling like a long-brewing ginger-tulsi kadha––becoming bitterer in taste with each passing moment. If only the potion seethes well, might India and China accrue long-term health benefits from it. The outcome of the sixth round of talks doesn’t indicate that; it is another case of the same old wine being served in a new bottle––still focussing on defusing tensions.

The bad broad nibs…

Talks, and more talks, are in the offing––uncertainty and unease on the border have been prolonged. Divining the prospect of peace by reading tea leaves might not be possible since, mutually piqued, Modi and Xi are less likely to meet over a cup of tea in the near future. Yet I have been overzealous about the future.

Would the Queen––whose representative caused this Sino-India border problem by using some bad broad nibs to draw the region’s map––help foresee the fate of the subcontinent? Out of curiosity I tossed a Victorian era silver coin hoping to get some answers––war or peace; withdrawal or long drawn standoff….? When judgement becomes difficult, I have started believing in the predictions guided by a coin with the British monarchy on its face for they (the Brits) are at the root of most of the world’s problems of today. And lo and behold, the coin I tossed, bounced off the road, missed a drain narrowly and ended up through a perforated concrete lid into a bottomless well meant for rainwater harvesting. Now sealed some fifty feet below the earth’s surface, is (the much sought knowledge of) the future of this great country.  

Wooing and claiming territory in Africa

Rankled, I had almost decided to take a break from this Sino-India affair for a while when I saw Champagne––the wretched stray I introduced to my worthy readers in an earlier post titled, China’s Champagne Moment.” Those familiar with that dog’s demeanour will recall that, like China he had been claiming territory that was not rightfully his until one day, when other dogs got together and taught him a lesson. Through Champagne I had projected Beijing’s doom.

My forecast has not come true yet; it has not been proved entirely false either. Several countries, with the US in the forefront, have been striving to settle their scores with China. The anti-China sentiment is simmering with greater intensity now than ever before. And ever since I wrote that piece, Champagne has been behaving even more like China. Rather than fighting with the dogs in the neighbourhood, he has been trying to travel far and wide and woo the dogs he sees sitting on any kind of resources. The other day I saw him wooing a black dog at a construction site. It felt as if China were wooing Africa.

An anthropomorphised Lisa

Then two strikingly strange and unusual things happened.

One, Lisa, another dog appeared on the scene. She became popular with all the dogs in the area. They aligned with her as much because of her friendly demeanour as for the reason that they wanted someone to stand for them against the aggressiveness of Champagne.

Learning to K-O-W-T-O-W

Two, around the time the last round of Sino-Indian border talks concluded, Champagne was seen practicing ‘kowtowing‘… yes, K-O-W-T-O-W-I-N-G.”

Reverting to China. Behind the façade, Beijing is succumbing to the pressures created by several countries going against it and this is evident in its slowly eroding belligerence. In the last few days, since the standoff at Pangong Tso, China has not reacted with use of force, instead it has spent time at the negotiating table with India. This doesn’t go with China’s past stance and responses to such issues. Reasons for its restraint are better known to Beijing; others can only hazard a guess.

Meanwhile, Indian leadership has not been resting on its oars. It is trying to find the best way to the dragon’s heart out of the so many routes available. One is direct––from Delhi to Beijing. The other is from Delhi to Beijing via one or more of––Washington, Ottawa, Paris, Berlin, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Canberra, Tokyo, Manila, the sea in the South of China (some people erroneously call it South China Sea), Malacca, Strait, Hong Kong, Taipei, Lhasa, Xinjiang, et al. Needless to say, in the present circumstances, Xi Jinping will be pleased to meet Modi’s emissary travelling direct from Delhi to Beijing rather than following a circuitous route.

In the present situation, either China has nothing to say (less likely), or it doesn’t have the words to say, what it wants to say. Therein lie the reasons for no tangible progress in the talks and no further escalation in hostilities. Therein also lies the reason why Xi Jinping, like Champagne, might as well go indoors and refresh his Kowtowing skill––one doesn’t know when he’d need to fall back on the benefits of the ancient Chinese practice.

India would do well to prepare the ESCAPE HATCH for the dragon’s graceful exit.

Related posts:

Dealing with the Darned Dragon: Preface

Dealing with the Darned Dragon-I: Border Infrastructure

Dealing with the Darned Dragon-II: Escape Hatch

Dealing with the Darned Dragon-III: A Lesson from Pearl Harbour

Dealing with the Darned Dragon-IV: Exercising (with) the Nuclear Option

8 thoughts on “Dealing with the Darned Dragon-V: Time to Kowtow!?

  1. Chordia Sir,

    As mentioned by me earlier , I would reiterate that China’s strategy and objectives from day one had been crystal clear and there is no change in it what so ever.

    It had moved in Galvan valley and Depsang area to intercept DOB Shyok road. The Road is now within their artilary range, and that is what they wanted , hence they will never restore the pre April positions in this area at any cost.

    Infact till PLA secures its KK highway and CPEC from Indian troops positioned in ShiaChin and Kargil, China will, in future also, as soon as India lowers its guards, try to move in those areas slso.

    However, for the time being and at the current juncture, its strategy is simple – DO NOTHING .

    It simply utilyses the time to continue reinforcing its positions on its side and creat permanent facilities/ infrastructures and would rather wait for India to make the move .

    It feels that this strategy is adequate to unnerve, frustrate and tire India out.

    Hence, my assessment is that this stalemate is going to continue for not months but years.

    All that China will be doing is keep its forces reinforced and in readiness to retaliate massively if India makes any attempts to take back the disputed pockets of land from china in these areas. China would prefer a contact less conflict and therefore, augmenting its missile bases along the borders massively. Precision missile attack, remote controlled drones and unmanned vehicles will be used profusely before soldier to soldier contacts are established .

    Indian strategists and policy makers are required to find out what it wants to do next .

    In this chess game of witts, the Initiative is still in the hands of the Chinese and it is India who has to make the next move , not China.

    The current status quo / stalemate suits China well and the current status is exactly as per its calculations and original plsnning.

    From Chinese perspective, most of its primary objectives for launching this aggression has been achieved .


  2. Ashok…. while India is known for its roadside toothsayers and soothsayers….using parrots and checking out the fine lines on one’s hand….you have chosen to toss a coin…that too a colonial British one… and brought in Champagne!…..well…to each his own choice of foretelling the future!
    Now coming to the crux of the matter. China may not be displaying any belligerence, but it too is not lowering its guard. It is a past-master at deception and lulling the adversary into a false sense of security. It is also a master at “talks”…be they between military leaders or on the diplomatic channels….China will tire the adversary through prolonged talks, getting the other side to commit a mistake…either in its utterances during the dialogues…or on the ground. In my humble opinion…whatever it may be worth….China is playing the waiting game with India, while it further builds on its infrastructure along the entire LAC….and keeping India guessing on its next move.
    On the other hand, it has conducted four simultaneous naval exercises, along its Eastern and Southern coasts, with a huge flotilla of ships….trying to give an impression of strength to USA and its allies….whosoever dares to come into that area.
    Notwithstanding the exercises, it is also worried about the consequences of the QUAD getting together for talks in Tokyo on 03 Oct.
    India should not be in a hurry to show its hand and claim victory. Chanakya Niti is our forte, is China has Sun Tzu. Indian leaders would do well to corner China, rather than give its an exit option. We have the upper hand on ground….literally and figuratively…. and we should make the best of this opportunity by not yielding an inch.


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