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Ideas Explained: Could a 2020 war with India be an attempt to restore Xis’ fragile political position in China?

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By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |

Sept. 15, 2020, 7:48 a.m.


India: news from India-China border, news from India and China, deadlock in Ladakh, tensions in LAC, Xi Jinping, Indian ExpressChinese President Xi Jinping. (AP photo, file)

In the summer of 362 BC, Alexander waited quietly for over a month on the inhospitable shore of the Jhelum. He was biding his time against the great army of Poruss with the most powerful battle tanks of the time, the war elephants. From time to time he would point them out a bit and withdraw. Poruss’s troops grew more confident and fell asleep feeling secure.

One rainy night, while sending a small force in front of where he had camped, his main army crossed a monsoon-swollen river to outsmart Porus from behind. The Battle of the Hydaspes (as the Jhelum was then known) continues to be studied by military strategists around the world.

Today, writes Rajesh M Parikh, a China 10 times more powerful than us in economic and military power than in 1962, stings us. Parikh is Director, Medical Research and Hon. Neuropsychiatrist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Center, Mumbai. He co-wrote Coronavirus: what you need to know about the global pandemic.

They didn’t just distinguish us for aggressive postures. Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea have all seen displays of power, he writes.

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Parikh cites analysts who argue that these problems may be futile and are motivated solely by national concerns. If so, it would be similar to the end of the India-China War in 1962.

In the years before the war, Chairman Maos Great Leap Forward had been a complete disaster with 40 to 50 million starving to death. His position was in danger and he hardly remained hanging on at the 10th Plenum of the 8th Party Central Committee in September 1962. A month later, total victory in the war with India strengthened his power in China.

Could a 2020 war with India attempt to restore Xis’ fragile position? Parikh asks. Right now, at least three factions in China are scrambling for power from the military, the political bureau and within it, President Xi Jinping and his enemies.

Read also | Ideas Explained: What India Must Be To Counter China

What also works against India is that the Chinese have brilliantly foiled the virus, even after behaving disgracefully during the early days of the pandemic.

For us, the worst of the pandemic is yet to come in the loss of lives and livelihoods. We don’t even think about the second wave of the pandemic, he warns.

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