Australia had a tiny taste of Chinese bullying recently. Yet we forget there’s a friendly nation infinitely more familiar with these tactics who might give us some good advice — India, our soul brothers in cricket, whose population of 1,380,004,385 runs a close second to China’s 1,439,323,776. It bemuses me always how dismissive Australians are towards the juggernaut superpower that is India, and how we underestimate them in everything except cricket. For instance, Putting aside The Great Game, we could learn a lot from the way in which the Indians have managed the unending Sino-Indian conflict over the disputed territories of the Himalayas.
In short, like their transgressions everywhere else, China is moving aggressively to take the Galwayn Valley, a strategically critical chokepoint along the disputed 3380km border which both sides call the LAC (Line of Actual Control). But India won’t give it up without a fight, and a few days ago tensions flared. While no shots were fired, India report twenty dead soldiers; while China stolidly refuse to confirm any losses, Indian sources suggest as many as 43 dead or “severely injured” Chinese troops. Details are sketchy, but the melee involved soldier being bludgeoned to death with nail-studded bats, clubbed with rocks, and thrown off cliffs. For many, the Indian Prime Minister’s response failed to resonate in either Beijing or the world stage.
What can we learn from this? Australia’s response to Chinese aggression, brought on by the Prime Minister’s call for an international inquiry into China’s role in the coronavirus, resulted in state-sponsored cyberattacks against this country. What price will Emperor Xi pay for his arrogance? Nothing. Their aggressive and unlawful incursions into the South China Sea? Nothing. Contrast Modi’s comments after the recent bloodshed “India wants peace but is capable of giving a befitting reply” with the terse Chinese response: “The Indian side should never think about pushing China to make concessions, because China won’t. Moreover, China’s countermeasures will never be late no matter the cost.” Open, blatant defiance and threats. What price does China pay? Nothing.
So how does the international community bring China to heel? Does China even have an Achilles’ heel? We could do worse than COVID-19. Pointing the finger of blame here, even if China actually did nothing wrong, could serve a beneficial ulterior purpose. The dragon is only vulnerable if the villagers unite, whereas it can pick them of one-by-one with impunity. Joining an international chorus of condemnation and, maybe, economic sanctions is less precipitous than Indian warships harrassing Chinese tankers in the Strait of Malacca. Being seen to be an aggressor, even when facing a provocative opponent, is not the stance India ought take right now. Unfortunately, this would take balls and finesse, and Prime Minister Modi comes across as a weak and simpering old man. Is he up to the task?
Hong Kong is another vulnerability for the Chinese. While US-centric media focus on BLM, anti-government rallies, protests and riots continue unabated in HK. Beijing’s thuggish efforts to crush the “One Country, Two Systems” mandate enacted by Article 5 of the Basic Law, which guaranteed constitutional autonomy to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region until 2047 means the socialist system and policies of the mainland remain on the mainland. While international leaders simper and fawn to Xi, a bunch of students (okay, millions of them) seem prepared to face down the tanks again. But this isn’t 1989. The international community can effectively compel Xi to honour the agreement, which would make the Emperor lose face.
Add the fact that China doesn’t have enough fresh water (which is why they’re diverting rivers in the Himalayan disputed territories) and you might have enough leverage to bring this thirsty bully to its heel. Just a suggestion. Aussies should thank our Indian mates for standing tall in the face of adversity, not just as the butt of some good-natured Virat Kohli bashing. For example, this screamer: “Why did Anushka Sharma go to England with Virat Kohli? Everybody knows that Indian cricketers can’t perform overseas!” I get that (it’s about s-e-x) but the next was a bit impenetrable (“Virat Kohli is so deeply madly in love with Anushka Sharma that he wants to remember her in his batting scores too!”) until I worked out that Sharma has copped a lot of heat in England for getting her lips artifically enhanced. We call it a ‘trout pout’ here, but ‘duck-lips’, yes, yes I suppose that’s funny…