Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Historically many smart nations have used disasters & pandemics to further their own economic and military interests. Disaster Diplomacy is used to push domestic products & gain a foothold into victim countries. Many powerful nations have used this disaster paradigm to propel own interests at a global level.
Regarding the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, after the first case was detected in Wuhan (China), the virus has spread to all corners of the world and has infected millions of people with thousands of fatalities. China first exported the virus to create the pandemic; now China is exporting thousands of tons of medical equipment like PPEs, Testing Kits, Masks & trained personnel to many affected countries.
China has also used this pandemic period to consolidate territory acquisition in South China Sea in the offshore territories of Paracel Islands & Spratly Islands, which are claimed, by many countries like Japan, Vietnam, Philippines and Taiwan. Presently military forces from US & China are in daily close contact in the area which may flare up anytime.
Many countries in the world are angry with China and recently passed a resolution in World Health Organisation (WHO) for an independent investigation about origins of the virus. Many nations are also planning to shift their businesses out of China. With world pressure mounting on China, there appears to be attempts at diverting this unwanted attention.
The Indo-China border has witnessed flare up in skirmishes in Doklam and Aksai Chin area of Ladakh. There has been a flare up of hostilities with increased mobilisation and troop deployment by both sides. All these are indications that China may explore all avenues to divert attention from Covid-19 blunders including a regional conflict with India.
While asserting sovereign rights to defend own territory India also need to be prepared for any untoward escalation in conflict by augmenting necessary troops and equipment in sensitive/ vulnerable areas. However, any Indo-China armed conflict during this Covid-19 pandemic period would be disastrous for both nations. Due Covid-19 pandemic, economies of both the countries are in recession with millions of job losses. Both nations cannot afford any armed conflict. Therefore all forms of diplomacy including frontal and back door diplomacy must be kept open to avoid a flare up. It must be considered that while Covid-19 is under control in China, it is on the upswing in India.
North East India and Arunachal would be directly affected by any Indo-China conflict because the battleground would be in the region. Sensitivities and opinions of North East and border states like Arunachal must be taken into account before committing into any armed conflict!
Instead of fighting each other, all humans must unite and fight this Covid-19 pandemic together. During this pandemic period, it would be foolish and idiotic to commit into any armed conflict. Chanakya Niti required! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)