With “Experts” Like These…

…who needs ignorant masses? The Times of India (h/t CDT) reports that Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, has suggested that China is going to attack India before 2012. Not may, will: “China will launch an attack on India before 2012.” Interesting. We suspect this is the first China has heard of it.

Mr. Verma does offer some reasons why China will attack India sometime in the next three years: “There are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century […the recession has] shut the Chinese exports shop [and the Chinese are facing] unprecedented internal social unrest.” Other reasons listed included: rising unemployment, a decrease in foreign investment, depletion of its foreign exchange reserves, and a bunch of other things that basically come down to the economy.

Good points, except that the Chinese economy is already recovering faster than anyone expected. Also, the whole idea is sort of batshit crazy.

First of all, the idea seems predicated on the idea that China is on the brink of collapse because of massive social unrest. Many would characterize that as inaccurate. Despite the recent riots, things in China seem fairly calm, and with the economy looking up, they could stay that way. Even if they don’t, the day when things have devolved to the point that China starts randomly attacking countries to distract people seems a long way away. It would also be a bit of a diversion from the traditional CCP model, which would seem to indicate they might instead attack (figuratively, one hopes) some group within China.

Verma’s idea also assumes that the Chinese government doesn’t care what the international community thinks; nor does it hope to resume any kind of international trade in the future, as an invasion or attack on India would almost certainly lead to the cessation of all trade relations between those two countries and probably tighter restrictions or ever embargoes from many other horrified countries (assuming they didn’t decide to respond militarily).

It’s probably also worth mentioning that China has never invaded another country since the Communist takeover. This is an important piece of government propaganda becuase it helps sell stability. Of course, it isn’t entirely true, but a lot has happened since 1979. If the news about riots in Urumqi can be all over the internet, with photos, within hours, one suspects that the Chinese government would be hard pressed to cover up an invasion of its gigantic, democratic neighbor. Invading India, one suspects, is as likely to cause more domestic unrest as it is to reduce domestic pressures.

The idea that China poses a serious military threat to India has come up before, but that Nation article probably explains the reason best: “India faces a greater threat from China than Pakistan because New Delhi knows little about Beijing’s combat capabilities.”

It’s understandable that India is nervous, of course, but is anyone else out there really convinced China is definitely going to attack them by 2012, or even going to attack them at all?

0 thoughts on “With “Experts” Like These…”

  1. I dont know how Bharat Verma pulled this out of his @$$.

    China already has enough territory dispute in south sea and with Japan, certainly doesnt want to talk about the issue, at least now.


  2. I’ve always been intrigued by that claim that Communist China has “never invaded another country” because it invites questions about what it takes for a country to claim sovereignty over an area. There is territory claimed by China but controlled by India that China could attempt to seize while maintaining it claim to non-aggression.

    Not that they’d want to, for the reasons this article points out. Also, modern wars are economy-breakingly expensive, particularly in mountainous areas against countries with armed forces as big as India’s. China needs its money, factories, and young men for pulling more and more of its people out of poverty. Also, while a military success could bolster support for the government, a failure or even a costly success would be disastrous.

    India is the other waking, poorly understood giant of Asia. India has its own issues of internal discord, with its fairly independent states pursuing their own agendas and great disparities in income between different regions of the country. Mr. Varma could be using China as an easy bogeyman to encourage more Indian unity.


  3. On the other hand, if we didn’t have cencorship here, you’d see insane articles by Chinese wingnuts get published, too.


  4. “On the other hand, if we didn’t have cencorship here, you’d see insane articles by Chinese wingnuts get published, too.”

    Alas, where you DO have censorship insane articles proliferate and are all written and published by the censors. Worse still, nobody is allowed to tell the nutcase authors that they are, in fact, nutcases.

    Do some people here really buy into China’s ‘peaceful rise’ so much that they think China won’t flex its military muscle in the next decade? Dream on.


  5. “China has never invaded another country since the communist takeover”?

    Please! The Communists have involved themselves in a series of wars since they took power. The crushing the East Turkestan republic in 1949, the Korean War in the 1950s, the invasion of Tibet in in 1950-51, the Quemoy crises in the 1950s, the attack on India in 1962, the border clashes with the Soviet Union in the 1960s and the invasion of Vietnam in 1979. Sure, China has calmed down since then, but the PRC has quite a checkered record for the first 30 years of its existence.


  6. “Right, but the only one of those that qualifies (to the Chinese) as invading another country would be the invasion of Vietnam. ”

    Exactly what is you point here? Do you imply that it is a peculiarly Chinese characteristic to deny that you have invaded other countries? That is hardly reassuring from an Indian perspective, quite the opposite.


  7. Perhaps Mr Verma needs a higher defense budget.

    I just think it’s a lame but successful attempt to capture headlines. It doesn’t go beyond a second of thought to evaluate the feasibility of this claim, but your post here has gone beyond that to give some good analysis that Mr Verma might entertain. Good on ya : )


  8. No, my point is that regardless of what’s actually true, that PERCEPTION is an important part of the Chinese national identity for a lot of people (ask Chinese people what they want to tell Americans sometime, 75%+ will say “Chinese are a peaceful people”) and so obviously violating it by invading India would risk serious internal destabilization.


  9. @C. Custer:
    I agree with what you’re saying, but I would like to add a little.

    The second thing Chinese people will say is “the integrity of our country is essential to us.” There might even have a “but” in between those two statements. I think China is being honest when it says that it doesn’t want to expand beyond it’s “natural” borders, but between T, T, and X, the perception of the Chinese people about their natural borders is very different from what many in the rest of the world think of as their natural borders.

    I think two of the important questions about Chinese military policy in any given dispute are:
    If this came to war, could that war be sold to the Chinese people as a defensive war? Or maybe even a police action?
    Could the conflict be won quickly and decisively enough to not create great amounts of war weariness in the Chinese people?

    The answer to the first question would be a strong “no” unless the government could create a REALLY strong impression that India, or people inside India, were meddling in Chinese internal affairs in the Southwest, and even then, the answer to the second question would still be a strong “no.”


  10. @C Custer

    Well, if you asked the same people what they would do if Taiwan proclaimed independence, most of them would probably advocate war – even if there was no military threat from Taiwan. Self-perceptions do matter, but just as Ben points out it is often possible to sell an aggressive war as an action of self-defense. If you look at most wars in the 20th century, they have been started as acts of self-defense but ended up quite otherwise.


  11. True. And if you look at those wars (at least the ones the US has been in, which are the ones I’m most familiar with) that have occurred since the advent of 24-hour news networks, etc., they’ve also all been massively unpopular at home as soon as they stray from the “self-defense” bit.

    I don’t disagree that it technically could happen. But, as Ben pointed out above, the list of conditions for it to “work” is pretty long, specific, and frankly unlikely. That’s why I’m saying even though it could probably happen, it won’t.


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