NEW DELHI: “I can’t imagine the Pakistanis, if the Chinese needed their help, not being willing to provide it. So if the Chinese said listen-oh boy, we have to teach these Indians a lesson, they’re actually pretty much evenly matched with us on the Himalayas, so why don’t you open up a hot front in Kashmir or even further south of Kashmir. Keep them occupied there. That’ll give us an opportunity to give them a bloody nose in the Himalayas. Such a situation is absolutely not impossible and it will be foolish of any Indian planner to discount the possibility altogether,” Congress party MP, author and former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said on ‘Talking Point’ with author and journalist Edward Lucas.
In the show moderated by StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi, Edward Lucas, former senior editor at ‘The Economist’, and current columnist in ‘The Times’ found a “paradox in China’s wolf diplomacy” that is leading to “a whole raft of different bilateral and multilateral security arrangements, which are creating exactly the sort of encirclement and containment, which has always been China’s objective to avoid”. He warned “it’s dangerous because the response of Beijing may be to go double or quit, or double down as the Americans would say”.
On 5G technology, Lucas said China’s all-round aggressiveness has “alerted the rest of the world to the threat, with the result we now have Huawei being booted out of a whole bunch of countries”. Tharoor, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology said India’s app ban and Huawei rethink “are setting off alarm bells in China”, but “we should also be careful not to cut off our noses to spite our face”.
XI Jinping ditched the “Hide And Bide” and “Strength By Stealth” policies he inherited, Edward Lucas pointed out, “for domestic payback”. And the fear of losing face makes it difficult for China to now go into “reverse gear”. This means everyone is looking for allies, whether it’s the Five Eyes or the Indo-Pacific, he added. Tharoor advocated a more assertive Indian foreign policy, saying “it’s a way of signaling to the Chinese—listen, we do have options. We’ve chosen not to exercise them, but we aren’t exactly just cowering in our bunkers waiting for you to breathe dragon fire down the Himalayas. We have other options”.