Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why China crossed the LAC in Ladakh

In an article in Asia Times, Francesco Sisci, a China watcher, made a fascinating analysis of Xi Jinping’s new concept, the Chinese Dream. Sisci argued that this Dream is not enough: “Both Chinese and Westerners have spent a lot of time and spilled much ink trying to explain the significance of the Chinese dream, yet Xi Jinping presented also another concept that is possibly even more important. He said the earth needs a ‘world dream’ (shijie meng).”
Does Xi have a World Dream?
In an interview with BRICS journalists before he left for his first foreign tour, Xi declared: “China being the world’s second largest economy, the China Dream also will bring opportunities to the world. …The China Dream will be realized through a road of peace.”
A few days later, addressing the Moscow Academy of International Relations, the Chinese President asserted: “The China Dream will bring blessings and goodness to not only the Chinese people but also people in other countries.” On April 10, commenting on Xi Jinping's speech at the Boao Forum in which he rebuked North Korea, The China Daily wrote: "This new concept of shared security is in stark contrast to the parochial approach, which tends to view security based on one's own interests and needs. Driven by such an undesirable approach, a country will always calculate its own gains first whenever there is a regional or global security crisis.”
Sisci rightly affirmed: "Despite the fact that the content of the Chinese dream is still vague and hazy, it is clear that the Chinese dream and the world dream must be consistent with one another. China should not clash with the rest of the world or with the incumbent powers, but should lead alongside them. China speaks of a dream of living a good life, free of need and hunger".
His conclusion was: "China's world view needs in fact to be consistent with the broad world view that has shaped and dominated the world for the past 500 years."
Now, considering Xi's dual Dreams (for China and for the World), how to explain the deep Chinese intrusions into Indian territory in Ladakh?
Is the Chinese Dream's aim grabbing more Indian territory?
Xi did not say so, he explained that “the China Dream will be realized through a road of peace".
What does President Xi really wants?
It is difficult to answer, but the Chinese actions in Ladakh, near the Karakoram pass, appeared to be the opposite of President Xi’s recent uttering.
Stepping into Sherlock Holmes’ shoes, I tried to speculate about another possibility. What about a senior local Commander or even a Central Military Commission (CMC) member, deciding on his own to show what the ‘Chinese Dream’ means to a weak Indian government while, at the same time, embarrassing Xi Jinping.
What would be the reason for some generals to embarrass the new President and CMC’s Chairman, Mr. Holmes?
I will tell you, Watson! Just read Xinhua’s report dated December 21, 2012: “The military [read Xi] declared that receptions for high-ranking officers will no longer feature liquor or luxury banquets. The receptions will also be free of welcome banners, red carpets, floral arrangements, formations of soldiers, performances and souvenirs, according to ten regulations drawn up by the Central Military Commission. The regulations also prohibit commission officials from staying in civilian hotels or military hotels specially equipped with luxury accommodation during inspection tours.”
The Chinese news agency further elaborates: “The ten regulations also require officials to cut both the number and length of inspection tours, overseas visits, meetings and reports. The regulations state that speakers at meetings should avoid empty talk, while commission officials will not be allowed to attend ribbon-cutting and cornerstone-laying ceremonies, celebrations or seminars unless they have received approval from the of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee or the Central Military Commission. The use of vehicles equipped with sirens will be rigorously controlled during official visits in order to prevent public disturbances.”
That is not all for the poor (or rich) generals, “officials are also required to discipline their spouses, children and subordinates and make sure they do not take bribes.” Impossible, Mr. Holmes!
More recently, The South China Morning Post reported that Xi, China’s Commander-in-Chief, issued an order, making the lives of the Chinese generals and senior officers, even tougher. Some of them will “have to serve as the lowest-ranking soldiers for at least two weeks per year”.
Apparently President Xi Jinping wants to ‘shake up the military and boost morale’.
To cancel the banquets, the bribes and then force the senior officers to live with jawans might be too much to swallow for certain generals.
The Hong Kong newspaper explains: “It dictates that officers with the rank of lieutenant-colonel or above must serve as privates - the lowest-ranking soldier - for not less than 15 days. Generals and officers will have to live, eat and serve with junior soldiers during the period. They need to provide for themselves and pay for their own food. They must not accept any banquet invitation, join any sight-seeing tours, accept gifts or interfere with local affairs.”
The periodicity of the ‘training’ for senior most officers is even detailed: “Leaders of regiment- and brigade-level units have to serve on the front line once every three years. Division- and army-level commanders must serve once every four years. Top leaders from army headquarters and military districts will do so once every five years.”
Further horror, all military vehicles must be given new car plates and blacklisted sedans include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lincoln, Cadillac, Bentley, Jaguar and Porsche and a few others. In other words, the Great Proletarian Revolution of the PLA!
One can imagine the resentment in the senior scale of the PLA; for some generals, it looks more like a Nightmare than a Dream.
Antony Wong Dong, a Macau-based veteran military expert told The South China Morning Post: “The lack of discipline, the rampant corruption and the gap between the officers and soldiers are so commonplace, it has compromised the battle-effectiveness of the PLA. Many generals and senior officers today have never experienced hardship. They are promoted to their position because of their connections or other reasons.”
Chairman Xi wants them to be ready for any situation. It is not the case today.
Don’t you think, Watson, that it is why some generals have tried to sabotage Xi’s Dream, being fully aware that India, a weakling country is far from being prepared.
But, there is more about the 'poor' Chinese generals, my dear Watson.
First, do you know why the Indian Prime Minister keeps speaking about ‘an isolated incident’?
Obviouly, it is ‘isolated’; the intrusion occurred only in a specific place along the LAC, not in Arunachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand (although they have happened in the past and they keep happening).
The Prime Minister probably just repeats what the Chinese told the MEA officials; it is ‘an isolated mishap’. For Beijing, ‘isolated’ just means that it does not have the blessings of the CMC. This would explain that the official website of the PLA (under the CMC, whose Chairman is Xi Jinping) while daily commenting on the conflict with Japan in the East China Sea, has never mentioned the Daulat Beg Oldi incident.
I guess, Watson that ‘isolated’ and frustrated generals have decided to teach India a lesson while sinking Xi’s ‘world dream’.
Take General Chang Wanquan; in October 2012, a few weeks before the 18th Congress, The South China Morning Post affirmed that he “appears to have the cards stacked in his favour.”
The Hong Kong newspaper added: “Aided by age, party tradition, strong connections and the right mix of work experience, General Chang Wanquan is widely considered a front runner to get a top military post at the Communist Party's congress. Already among the 12 men on the PLA's supreme Central Military Commission, Chang is tipped to claim one of the two vice-chairmanships of the body reserved for active members of the armed forces.”
Traditionally, the two vice-chairmanships are selected from officers who have already served in the CMC.
Though a protégé of former President Hu Jintao, General Chang did not make it; he was superseded by General Fan Changlong, the Commander of the Jinan Military Region (MR).
As compensation, General Chang was given the Defence Ministry, a honorific post which does not entitle him a place in the all-powerful Politburo. Interestingly, he had several postings in the Lanzhou MR (let us not forget that the Ladakh front depends of the Xinjiang Military District of Lanzhou MR.)
Just see, Watson! Several generals would not mind to open a new front, for a few yuans more!
Willy Lam in an article in the China Brief says: “Moreover, the PLA top brass seems keen on interpreting the China Dream in such a way as to justify its lobbying for more economic resources and a greater say in national affairs. In a recent editorial entitled, the PLA Daily indicated that the defense forces would “struggle hard for the fulfillment of the dream of a strong China and a strong army. …Only when national defense construction is up to scratch will there be a strong guarantee for economic construction.”
Some generals today propound the theory that “boosting national defense construction can only give a significant push to economic and social development.” A dangerous game, of course!
Let us hope that it is an ‘isolated’ incident.

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