Is Xi ready to fight from Tibet to Taiwan?
Through mind games, China hopes to induce change in another nation’s behaviour; however, as seen in the Ukraine-Russia war - conflict cannot be ruled out when national interests are at stake
China’s diplomatic and military mind games are a desperate attempt to bolster its receding global influence, especially in the Asia Pacific region, where it has numerous territorial disputes.
This week, China, in its diplomatic mind game, renamed regions in India’s Arunachal Pradesh. Bejing announced standardised geographical names to 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh, what it calls ‘Zangnan, the southern part of Tibet’, in an attempt to lay claim to the Indian territory.
This is the third time President Xi’s Wolf Warriors have undertaken a renaming exercise in Arunachal Pradesh. However, the Indian government termed the attempt as ‘mere mischief’ as the renamed regions were non-existent rivers and pieces of land in northeastern India.
Similarly, the Dargon nation also conducted three days of war games named ‘Joint Sword’ around Taiwan this week. Its forces simulated targeted strikes and practised blockades on the self-ruled island.
According to the Chinese statement, China deployed one of its two aircraft carriers - The Shandong in the wargame. So, why is China so desperate to throw its weight around? The answer is simple - Bejing wants to reinstate the hegemonic position it relished before the global pandemic.
The world has long known China’s aspiration for world dominance, even though it tried hard to mask its predatory funding policies as infrastructure development initiatives - The Belt and Road project being a case in point. For several decades China took unilateral actions like building artificial islands in disputed areas of the south china sea, gobbling up natural resources worldwide and weaving punitive debt traps- all went unchallenged. Conflicting regional alignments and compelling trade and commerce deals prevented the global powers from challenging the dragon nation. Covid changed all that.
Though India was one of the first major power to flag China’s global infrastructure funding scam and the Belt and Road initiative - once nations like Sri Lanka and Pakistan suffered an economic meltdown - the world especially developing and island nations, took note of the Chinese trap.
Indian academic Brahma Chellaney coined the term ‘China’s Debt-Trap Diplomacy’ to describe how the Chinese government leverages the debt burden of smaller countries for geopolitical ends.
Based on data from The World Bank report as of 2020, Forbes noted that 97 countries across the globe are under Chinese debt. The heavily debated countries are located in Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Then, what explains the military posturing that President Xi is indulging in from the foothills of Tibet to Taiwan?
It is about establishing international influence as a military power which, in sync with its diplomacy, can engage on multiple fronts, big or small. Beijing is engaged in disputes with 17 nations over land and sea borders, and given its economic might, it feels it can influence the behaviour of other nation-states.
Beijing’s recent military exercises are seen as a response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, an encounter it had warned would provoke strong countermeasures.
K Subrahmanyam's Strategy and Mind Games article published in India International Centre Quarterly says, “Such competition in influence is part of the regular game of nations.” Countries apply pressure to ‘create unease using economics, diplomacy, military;’ in today’s world, the added dimension of social media warfare helps create fear and panic among citizens.
Through mind games, China hopes to induce change in another nation’s behaviour; however, as seen in the Ukraine-Russia war - conflict cannot be ruled out when national interests are at stake. So, the question is, is Xi ready to fight from Tibet to Taiwan?
(The author is Founder of
My Startup TV)