China on Monday gave in to mounting international pressure for a probe into the origin of Covid-19 and a review of the World Health Organisation’s response to the pandemic. There is more to this statement than what meets the eye. On being criticized by the US and other countries about the dubious role of China in collusion with WHO in the spread of COVID19, China started blaming US as the originator of the COVID19. Having failed in thiseffort, it attempted to assuage the feelings of various nations by selling masks, PPE, ventilators and test kits Which as expected boomeranged on it since they turned out to be sub-standard and highly priced. It thereafterstarted pushing militarily to subdue opposition by threatening countries in South China Sea (SCS) and India. It has threatened a Philippine Navy ship, sank a Vietnamese fishing boat and intimidated other nations in the region from fishing and engaging in off shore oil and gas development. These attempts were promptly responded to by the US through two back to back Freedom of Navigation Operations (FNOPS) in quick succession in SCS to boost the confidence of countries in the region.
Similarly, it approached India seeking support in denouncing US from blaming China. However, due to lack of positive response, it has started showing its military muscle along the our Northern Borders with China. First in Mar 2020, it released maps showing parts of Arunachal in China. It has now enhanced troop deployment in the Galwan Valley following a faceoff with our troops on the pretext that India is undertaking military activity in Chinese areas an absolutely baseless claim. Over 70 to 80 people suffered minor injuries in the ensuing scuffle at Galwan. It also violated our air space in Eastern Ladakh on 12 May 20, although the IAF later said that there was no violations of Indian air space. But flying aerial sorties close on the heels of Galwan faceoff should not be brushed off lightly. Earlier too it was involved in an unusually aggressive face off at Naku La Sikkim. Further, China is painting India in poor light to dissuade international industries from relocating to India. Its official mouthpiece Global Times on 19 May 20 states, “Tensions between China and the US are not an opportunity for India to attract relocating industrial chains, because the South Asian country is not prepared to receive such a manufacturing shift given its poor infrastructure, lack of skilled labor and stringent foreign investment restrictions.”
China now agreeing to an independent investigation comes with a rider of doing so after the settling down of the COVID19 crisis. This condition is just a ploy to buy some time to cover up its track and salvage a losing international sympathy and possibly prevent heavy economic setbacks. It is in this light that we must see ongoing confrontations along our Northern Borders with China. China is very well aware that India is soon to take over the lead role of WHO on 22 May 20 from Japan. A probe when India will have the lead role of WHO could go against China. Adverse international opinion and India’s rising image and lead role in WHO may have forced China to resort to military and economic bullying with two aims. First China would want India not to obstruct the pro Chinese DG of WHO Mr Tedros from covering its follies in management of COVID19. Second, probably it wants to paint India in bad light to ensure that the businesses which want to relocate from China do not fall into the lap of India. India should not fall prey to thesemanipulations because India is no more a pushover military force of the 60s. Moreover the Chinese are also not in a very happy economic condition with huge job losses amounting to 5 million as per official figures but unofficial figures put it at almost 70 million. China’s GDP growth rate was negative in the first quarter. In such a scenario China is unlikely to mount any major offensive but we cannot be found wanting in the event of a military misadventure. Hence we need to focus on national military security capability development along with creating conditions for attracting industry chains from China to India. Dragon is playing games and high time wecall its bluff.