The peaceful resolution of the Doklam issue between India & China has been triggering a plethora of some well written analytical essays by people who know the China side better than the usual journalistic stories. Still, many people wonder how it came about? Was it give & take? Did someone lose honour or compromise national interests? None of it.
It was no issue in the first place for the leadership of the two countries. It was the hawks in the Chinese communist party who were demanding their pound of flesh from President Xi Jinping. They were getting misleading feedback from the hawkish elements in the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. These elements were trained in the conventional communist mould and owed allegiance to the hawks. The Chinese Embassy fed them shallow information about the strength of the Congress Party and its alliance partners, including the two communist parties, which gave them the false hope of defeating Narendra Modi and his government and replace it by a government led by Rahul Gandhi. Nothing could be sillier than such an assessment of India 2017.
President Xi Jinping knew India better. In fact, he knows China also better than these hawks. The harsh reality is that the China of the hawks is gone forever. They are outdated, shelved beyond their expiry dates, creating hurdles in the advancement of China which can’t be stalled and causing impediments in the smooth functioning of President Xi Jinping. They have been purged in 100,000s by President Xi since his coming to power and the exercise goes on.
President Xi is facing political resistance from his party men similar to Narendra Modi in India. The two leaders are “forward looking” but their party men are “backward looking”. They think of the world 30 years hence but their party men think 30 years left behind. Both leaders are trying to educate them in their own ways.
Doklam was thrust upon President Xi Jinping by the hawks, who were instigated by elements in the Chinese embassy in Delhi, who sold to the hawks disruption of the Kailash Mansarovar Pilgrimage as an instrument of pricking Xi Jinping personally and spoil the chemistry between Xi & Modi, cultivated so carefully in the past 3 years.
It did create bitterness to some extent but India is more than emotional in 2017. It refused to over-react to the development and make an issue out of it.
President Xi Jinping ridiculed the hawks in his own party by making a success of the BRICS Summit and inclusion of terrorism by Pakistan in the declaration on its successful conclusion. The message he gave to the hawks was that China is a member of the comity of nations and has to listen to their views. China can’t go on alone as it is neither an empire nor any despot regime.
They need to acknowledge the coming of age of the New China- the Economic Super Power. Hate for capitalism might have fuelled the hawks 70 years ago but no more of it.
The punishment to the corrupt party leaders shows them the mirror to their real persona of capitalists of the capitalist economies anywhere in the world.
China can’t go back to the old ways of the Cultural Revolution. Its priority today is economic development and growth.
As on date, there is no threat to the Chinese economy. But there is no guarantee that there will be none in the near future.
The gains of China may be rendered Non-Performing Assets (NPA) anytime by the disruption of technology.
In the whole 70 days standoff between the two countries, the Chinese youth didn’t take sides or even much interest. That meant a set back to the hawks who thought they will be able to get popular support for their campaign for an all-out fierce war against India and achieve victory easily as they did in 1962 and punish India.
They are so cut off from the prevailing global realities that they failed to read the mind of the youth or understand the realities of the times.
The Indian government held its cool under every provocation for so long but the people of India responded almost instantly- there were calls to boycott all Chinese products. That call by the people had instant effect. It would have meant loss of jobs to the Chinese people for whom India is a very big market these days. As the Chinese exports globally were already declining, it could hardly afford to risk ruining its market in India. The forward looking Xi Jinping understood the implications and called the truce before it caused irreparable economic damage to China. Had it not been done at the right-time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have been compelled to cancel his visit to the BRICS Summit. It would have meant a serious dent to the Chinese economic and diplomatic efforts. A failed BRICS Summit would have sent the wrong message to the world that China is not interested in cooperation, peace and stability in the world.
Only wise world leaders are alert to the impending threats from technology.
Ever increasing automation has already swallowed millions of jobs, rendering workers unemployed in many countries. The worst threat of the present times looms over every nation. Who would know it better than President Xi Jinping? China is a leader in AI today. Artificial Intelligence is going to take away the remaining jobs.
Who would need huge armies in 2050? Artificial intelligence would not only provide better border security but also fight wars without a single soldier on the battlefield. Nobody will be able to stop the march of AI in the coming years. It will come like a typhoon, tsunami or earthquake and leave behind all round destruction.
The hawks even don’t have any idea about the number of unemployed highly qualified Chinese youth between the ages of 20-30. Higher education in China is not available to all and cost the student huge amounts in fees. There is very tough competition in China to get admission to higher educational institutions. Student loans need to be repaid. If the graduates fail to get a job after completing their education, it can create the worst crisis for them.
They will power the growth engine of China for the next few decades, and not the army personnel.
Already the number of unemployed has risen alarmingly. There are not sufficient number of jobs available. Whatever is available is much below the expectations of these people. High paying jobs for the highly competitive young people are not available. Automation and artificial intelligence has taken their jobs. The cronyism prevalent has further added to their woes. They are a frustrated lot today. They are not going back to the days of the cultural revolution. These ideas simply don’t enter their head as they are members of the much larger global knowledge society. They are productive minds in search of excellent work opportunities. The hawks can’t provide them anything. President Xi is trying to create opportunities for them. The hawks can’t be allowed to stall the right policies of President Xi Jinping. Hence the resolution of the Doklam face off so peacefully.
It needs to be noted that China is changing fast. In fact, China under President Xi is much ahead of many countries. There will be no communist China in 2050 as we know it today. China will create a different Capitalist World Economic Order by then, which will determine the future course of economic development everywhere. What America has done so far, the Chinese wish to do in this Asian Century.
Add to this the Chinese plan to reduce the size of its army from 2.5 million to just 1 million, with very bright prospects of its further drastic reduction by employing Artificial Intelligence. The immediate problem before any government would be to provide employment to such huge numbers of demobilised army men. Already the 300,000 army men demobilised in 2015 are creating problems for the government because they have neither pension nor any jobs. Coupled with the high rate of existing unemployment in China, it is almost an impossible task on hand for President Xi Jinping.
Who has proved smarter: Xi or the hawks? The hawks can’t think beyond army and war; Xi thinks economics, development, growth and jobs. What Mikhail Gorbachev did to free the USSR of the burden of communism, President Xi Jinping will do to China. People love freedom, peace and prosperity in the long run.
Had the Doklam crisis developed into a full-fledged war, the hawks would have consolidated their position. They are already unhappy at the government’s move to downsize the army drastically. The forthcoming party congress is likely to lead to further consolidation of power in the hands of President Xi Jinping. Doklam was as much between the hawks and the Chinese President as it was between India and China.
Words like victory or defeat are simply not relevant in such political gamesmanship.