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2025 – End Game China: War a Certainty – Part II ; By Cdr Sandeep Dhawan

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Article 23/2020


The war with China is a certainty. Whether it would be with India or any other country in the South China Sea, only time would tell. However, since the initiative has been taken by China, India should not disappoint them, else they would keep coming back like a chronic disease(and China is well known for spreading diseases).

To deal with China we will consider these three principles of German-Austrian politician and statesman, Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich:

  1. Compromise is the easy refuge of irresolute or unprincipled men. A nation’s survival is not a matter of compromise.

  2. Weaker states can ill-afford merely to react to events; they must also try to initiate them.

  3. We must rely for the execution of our plans on ourselves alone and on such means as we possess.

Keeping the above principles in mind the war should be fought by India and India alone, without compromising, and with a doxastic commitment on two fronts:

  1. Non-Military

  2. Military


Non-military fronts would primarily be ’Economic War’, and it should start immediately. China takes excessive pride in its economic achievements(forgetting that most of it was due to the extraordinary interest shown by the United States). The Communist Party of China’s(CPC) hold over its populace is through its economic might. If that economic might disappears CPC would be toothless. So hit where it hurts the most. The Economic War would be assisted by these three components:

  1. Asymmetric War: Asymmetric warfare consist of nuclear, chemical, biological, economical, information operations, operational concepts, terrorism, etc. However, India should consider only

  2. Disinformation and Propaganda

  3. Disruption of Chinese Operations

  4. Psychological war

  5. Technological and Biological War

  6. Diplomatic War


In the late 19th century East India Company supplied slow poison, opium to China to secure Hong Kong. Ten million Indian farmers were stuck in the production of high-quality opium. The price peasants received for their opium did not even cover the cost of growing it. Two centuries later in the role reversal Chinese have put Indians on the slow poison of cheap imports. It is understandable that they supply India with high-tech machinery and components, however, they also supply India with fertilizers, humidifiers, medical masks, liquid soaps, toothpicks, God statues, etc, which could be easily produced in India. In the last three decades, Indian manufacturers have become traders. Planners and leaders remained in policy paralysis, while China kept eating into India’s manufacturing base. China’s posturing in Ladakh should be seen as, a blessing in disguise, which has pulled India out of its slumber, and complacency.

’Metternich’ states that a weaker state should take initiative rather than react to a stronger state. Economically and militarily, China has an edge over India. Therefore India should take initiative, make a list of punitive actions, that hurt the Chinese economy and limit the damage to the Indian economy. Following shortcomings of China can be exploited:

  1. More than 100 Chinese firms have a presence in India.

  2. Chinese SOEs(State-Owned Enterprises) have bagged huge projects in India. The CPC gets it’s power from these SOEs. The SOEs should be thoroughly investigated, harassed, and eventually disallowed on security grounds.

  3. The Chinese economy’s dependence on exports was 19.5% of GDP in 2018. That is a huge percentage to harass China.

  4. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has finalized a list of 3,000 products that can easily be made in India, reducing the Chinese imports by $13 billion, by December 2021. However, 30% of Indian imports are low tech products. India should develop a strategy to produce these products within the country.

  5. India underutilizes it’s Steel, Electronics, and Chemical industry. These can also be ramped up with a roadmap for the next 5-10 years.

  6. China has a  Foreign Investment Negative List which has 13 sectors, and foreign companies have restricted entry in there. Compared to this India has a limited list. India seriously needs to have a relook at this list.

  7. The Bureau of Indian Standards is finalizing tougher norms for at least 370 products to ensure items that can be locally produced and not imported. The products include chemicals, steel, electronics, heavy machinery, furniture, paper, industrial machinery, rubber articles, glass, metal articles, pharma, fertilizer, and plastic toys.


Before we go into details of how we should deal with China. The following are a few graphs showing that China has much more to lose than India in this relationship gone sour. They also indicate that there are forces within India and in the western countries who are pushing the Chinese agenda through Propaganda and disinformation, depicting China as a powerful, just, and indispensable nation, which has a major role in the progressive world.

It is evidently clear that India can do without China. It would take some time, but that future looks better and safe. In addition to creating an economic roadmap within the country, India should start hurting the Chinese economy worldwide. Disinformation and Propaganda are the finest tools to spread fear and confusion in the enemy camp, be it military personnel or civilians. China has created a homegrown internet environment, where nothing enters from the outside world. The important component of this surveillance state is:

  1. Great Firewall of China

  2. Great Cannon

  3. Golden Shield

The disinformation or the actual information can be passed in the following ways:

  1. Going past the above-mentioned impediments and corrupting the Chinese databases. Thereafter, flooding the Chinese Social Media with (dis)information against CPC and its wrongdoings.

  2. The target audience for the propaganda in China should be the middle class. The deepest threat to the regime’s stability will come from them.

  3. Connecting directly with Chinese tourists & businessmen – 170 million travel annually.

  4. Indoctrinate Chinese Students – 700,000 studying in foreign universities.

  5. Overseas Chinese – Over 1 million Chinese reside in Africa alone, mostly conducting businesses and working on Chinese projects. Propaganda against them would adversely affect businesses and projects. Propaganda against CPC, would be carried by them when they visit home(Chinese workers are very scared in Pakistan. They have been targeted by the Taliban and BLA freedom fighters from time to time).

  6. Major Importing Countries – Countries in North and Central America, Western Europe, South East Asia, and Australia should be flooded with information and propaganda against

  7. Chinese government, Chinese companies and corporations through social, print, and electronic media.

  8. Atrocities on Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kongers, and Christian missionaries.

  9. Environmental damage due to Chinese practices.

  10. Intellectual Property(IP) Theft.

  11. Aggression in the West Philippines Sea(erstwhile South China Sea).

  12. Terrorism in Myanmar and Indian states of J&K, Assam and Nagaland.

  13. Missile and nuclear proliferation.

  14. Threat of Xi Jinping’s ’Chinese Dream’ of a return to global greatness.

  15. India and other free world countries should spread information/disinformation in the Chinese mainland with the help of willing nations(TV and radio stations dedicated to China in those countries). This would give rise to unrest, demonstrations and uprising in China. Topic should be:

  16. End of cheap Chinese labor

  17. Economic slowdown

  18. High unemployment due to jobs shifting to India, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia

  19. Poorly planned government investment decisions

  20. Poor execution of schemes, locally and internationally

  21. Aging population

  22. Rising health costs

  23. Compare Xi Jinping’s OBOR to Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward.


Alexis de Tocqueville

19th-century French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville’s ’The Old Regime’, and the ’French Revolution’ are very popular books amongst Chinese leaders. ’The Tocqueville Paradox’ observes: ”the reforms that a weakened dictatorship pursues have a tendency to trigger a revolution that eventually topples the reformist dictatorship itself”. During the long period of competition of the Cold War, the rigidity of the Soviet Union and its leaders became the most valuable tool for the United States. The Kremlin continued with its failed strategies, clinging to a waning economic system, continuing a disastrous arms race, and retaining an unaffordable global empire, rather than acknowledge the losses. Xi Jinping’s regime is similarly restrained by the rigidities of their own system and therefore limited in their ability to correct policy mistakes. Xi’s empire is also spreading wide and thin, weakening the core thought process of Deng Xiaoping. Xi knows that as societies become complex with more and more cutting edge sophistication in them, and more and more specialization, they become increasingly vulnerable to collapse. That is the reason Xi would have policy paralysis and no option but to become more rigid. He has reversed Deng’s political reforms that separated the party and the state. Xi Jinping’s dictatorship is staring at ’The Tocqueville Paradox’. The damage to Xi’s authority caused by further missteps would also embolden his rivals, especially Premier Li Keqiang and the Politburo members Wang Yang and Hu Chunhua. It would be interesting to note, what brings down Xi first, external or internal forces.

(Cdr Sandeep Dhawan was a Maritime Reconnaissance Pilot and a Qualified Flying Instructor. He served in the Indian Navy between 1988 – 2009 ( PMR) with vast experience with Indian Air Force and Indian Coast Guard. He has been a civilian pilot since 2009 flying for commercial airlines with King Fisher, Spice Jet, Jet Airways and Indigo. The views expressed are personal and does not reflect the views of C3S.) 

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