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Splitting India since 2005

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An old strategy

From The Financial Times:

Indian academics are up in arms over what they regard as provocative incitement of the country’s demise by a Chinese essayist.

“China can dismember the so-called ‘Indian Union’ with one little move!” claimed the essay posted last week on China International Strategy Net, a patriotic website focused on strategic issues. The writer, under the pseudonym Zhanlue (strategy in Chinese), argued that India’s sense of national unity was weak and Beijing’s best option to remove an emerging rival and security threat would be to support separatist forces, like those in Assam, to bring about a collapse of the Indian federal state.

“There cannot be two suns in the sky,” wrote Zhanlue. “China and India cannot really deal with each other harmoniously.” The article suggested that India should be divided into 20 to 30 sovereign states.

English reports about the essay all attribute it to 'Zhanlue'. None of them mentions that the essay has been floating around the Chinese Internet for years.

The earliest posting of the essay I've been able to find is dated September 30, 2005, with no author attribution. The entire essay is pasted into a comment on a Baidu forum post, linked below. This is almost certainly not the first posting of the essay.

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There are currently 21 Comments for Splitting India since 2005.

Comments on Splitting India since 2005

Does it really matter when the essay first appeared? 2005, 1995, or 1985? Not so much. What does matter is that the essay was recently given pride of place on a nationalist Chinese website devoted to strategic issues where it came to the attention of the people of India who are anxious about China's strategic intentions vis-a-vis India, greater South Asia, and the Indian Ocean. India's anxiety is not exactly groundless either. Among other "provocations," China has recently stationed medium range ballistic missiles in Tibet (where the only possible target could be India), cooperated with Pakistan on the building of a deep water port in Gwadar, and increased its naval presence in the Indian Ocean. Given the history of war between China and India, continued animosity stemming from the unresolved Arunachal Pradesh territorial dispute, China's longstanding military support of Pakistan, and a recent essay by a member of India's defense establishment warning that China may attack India sometime in the next few years, it's no wonder that a few Indians are upset (belatedly or not) over this essay.

In the end, nationalist rants such as this may prove to be a good thing for India-U.S. relations.

What "provocations"? There are hundreds of such lunatic posts floating around Chinese internet every year. If you believe every one of them, you need to be locked up in a mental hospital now.

"nationalist Chinese website devoted to strategic issues "?

Seriously, it is even not a well known popular forum. You got to wonder the intelligence of the first Indian researcher who found this post. Or does he need more funding?

brick: "What 'provocations'?"

Reread my comment - the part where I mention China's medium range ballistic missiles in Tibet, China's cooperation with Pakistan on the construction of the port in Gwadar, China's increasing naval presence in the Indian Ocean, and China's continued military support of Pakistan.

However you may feel about the essay itself or the website on which it appeared, the sentiments expressed feed into Indian anxiety about China's economic and military rise.

One of the problems that many people - Chinese included - have when studying contemporary China is differentiating between serious essays written by serious people and the crap written by everyone else. The Indian researcher you dismiss as intellectually challenged is more than likely much smarter than you, brick. Indeed, essays such as this one are routinely collected, translated, and disseminated to the powers that be. (There is an office in the U.S. Department of State, for example, that does nothing but translate essays regarding Chinese views of the U.S. that appear in the popular Chinese press, without regard for the insighfulness of the essays.) Nationalistic rant or not, it shouldn't surprise you that the essay upset the Indians. After all, the Indians are as sensitive as the Chinese about issues involving territorial integrity, ethnic/minority harmony, and unwelcome foreign intervention. Nor should it surprise you that the essay perhaps expresses the sentiments of a small but meaningful subset of the Chinese foreign policy establishment. With respect to India, the Chinese have pursued a policy of strategic encirclement since at least the mid-1980s. In fact, the Chinese sometimes refer to their contest with India for hegemony over the Indian Ocean (and the South China Sea and Malacca Strait) as the "Maritime Great Game."

You might also consider that there are people in India (e.g., various politicians, media outlets, and "stupid" researchers) that profit from exposing essays such as this one. Again, the essay wasn't pulled from some obscure comment thread. Rather, as the Financial Times article indicates, it was discovered on a "patriotic website focused on strategic issues." Considering that the Chinese frequently demonstrate a profound sensitivity to alleged slights appearing in the Western and Indian media, it shouldn't surprise you that Indians feel much the same.

I do not know how you get "The Indian researcher you dismiss as intellectually challenged is more than likely much smarter than you, brick." (You know my educational background or you know my research interests?), but your intelligence certainly looks suspicious to me.

China is a friend of PK. Of course, after 1962 war, China and PK become alliance at that front. This is not news for everyone in Chinam, PK, and India. Then India has provided a sanctuary to Tibet dissents since 1950s, who are considered as dangerous enemies to China. Therefore, given the history and hostile language long used by Indian politician, I am surprised that any smart and informed people would only suggest "provocations" from China.

When China developed strategic relationship with countries in the Indian ocean, I doubt that India is the target in mind. It is more about the alternative route for oil than encirclement, more about US and TW than India. India is not that big a deal by itself and not worth all the trouble.

Of course some Indians are disturbed by this essay. But if the established strategists in a big country take this kind of crap seriously, then you got to ask what they are up to? They could not be this stupid, could they? Or they just need funding to justify their existence.

And Ft.com's "patriotic website focused on strategic issues.", LMAF. Ft.com jsut reported something in India and it did not have any story from China. It could not just say that it is only a regular forum for some young people, could it? There are numerous forums with similar size on the Chinese internet. There are all kinds of "strategic issues": Chinese with Korean, Japanese, American, Russian, Indian...you name it. If you search hard enough, you can find articles about alliens as well.

I know Chinese netizens are sensitive about foreign reports. But at least they care about what the serious media outlets said, like CNN or NYtimes. Even angry youth won't devote much time on those crap second-hand foreign opinion from some unknown forum.

What's wrong with the Gwadar port? Both China and Pakistan have said that its meant for commercial purposes only, and unless they actually station a large naval fleet there, only then will I start worrying for India. Until then stop being so paranoid.

The same thing applies to all other Chinese projects in the area, like in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Burma. What's wrong with China helping these countries establish world class port facilities? Again, until China actually stations a large naval fleet capable of taking on the Indian navy in those ports, stop worrying.

Okay, I admit that China might eventually want to base a few ships in the region, but I believe that it would only be because of China's increasing involvement in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. It would make sense for them to establish a small base in the area (maybe in Gwadar, eventually) so that their ships won't have to sail all the way back to China for resupply etc.

Seeing as the Chinese have not even announced plans that they want to establish just a small naval base somewhere in the Indian Ocean, worrying about them suddenly establishing numerous naval bases "surrounding" India is just plain paranoia.

Kinda hypocritical of the Chinese, no?

Maybe India should advocate that Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Inner Mongolia be split into different countries, and that North and South China should be divided into separate factions -we all know how much the Chinese love separatist ideas.

Stinky,

I see balant hypocrisy here. As a resident China cynic you are saying the Chinese should be sensitive to the feelings of the Indians and make sure theirs are not hurt. Haha. If this were to happen to the Chinese and if the Chinese had been up in arms protesting you would have laughed at the Chinese for their immaturity, paranoia and insecurity. No double standard please!

India is threatened by China and Pakistan you say? How about China? China is surrounded by the mighty US, Japan and their minor allies such as India, Australia, South Korea and Vietnam. Should the Chinese feel insecure and get hung up over something this stupid?

The Indians need to grow up. And you need to cut your double standard.

The reason it is causing a ruckus is that most of the indian elite are very positive towards China, and they admire Chinese economic growth. Therefore viewpoints like these (however marginal or not) shock the Indian public.

Pfeffer: "I see balant hypocrisy here. As a resident China cynic you are saying the Chinese should be sensitive to the feelings of the Indians and make sure theirs are not hurt. Haha."

As clueless as ever, Pfeffer.

In fact, I never said that the Indians weren't overly sensitive. In an earlier comment, I refer to the essay in question as a "nationalist rant." What I DID say, however, was that the piece plays into longstanding Indian anxieties regarding China's military and economic rise and that this anxiety is founded on much more than an offensive essay or two. Indeed, Pfeffer, the Indians have good reason to wonder what the Chinese have in mind for the Indian Ocean. Indians also understandably resent China's longstanding military assistance to Pakistan. (Remember this next time a Chinese friend tells you with a straight face that China doesn't interfere in the affairs of other countries.) Finally, like the Chinese, the Indians pay close attention to what their rivals say about them. If we're to tread carefully so as not to hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, shouldn't the Chinese be expected to do the same? For a government and people as sensitive to issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity as the Chinese to permit an essay such as this to remain on line long enough for the Indians to discover it speaks more to Chinese hypocrisy than my own, Pfeffer. Just think - what would the Chinese response be were the New York Post, the Washington Times, or the Weekly Standard to run a similar essay advocating the break-up of China into 30 or so independent states? We'd never hear the end of it.

Pfeffer: "India is threatened by China and Pakistan you say? How about China? China is surrounded by the mighty US, Japan and their minor allies such as India, Australia, South Korea and Vietnam. Should the Chinese feel insecure and get hung up over something this stupid?"

In fact, as you well know, the Chinese demonstrate a predictable, if disappointing, tendency to get hung up over things even more stupid. Remember the Sharon Stone fiasco? How about the no-name CNN columnist Jack Cafferty's characterization of the Chinese as “goons and thugs"? The Chinese were so offended by Cafferty that the Chinese Ministry of State felt compelled to respond. (I’m not even including perceived insults directed at China by the Chinese themselves. Remember Meng Guangmei and "toiletgate"?) Indeed, it often seems that the Chinese hang on America's every word. Why expect less from Indians.

If you don't understand why India is threatened by China's military assistance to Pakistan, then you're not paying attention. The same goes for China's naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

Pfeffer: "The Indians need to grow up. And you need to cut your double standard."

I wish that everyone would behave like grown-ups and make nice, though I understand that's probably too much to ask. This being the case, so long as China remains a single party state governed by the CCP - a once revolutionary party whose present legitimacy now relies as much on nationalism, threats of violence, and limits on speech and media freedoms as on continued economic growth - I will be rooting for the democracies. To tell you the truth, it makes me feel better that China is surrounded by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and the U.S. I hope it makes the thugs in charge of China sleep less well.

As for China being surrounded by enemies, Pfeffer, perhaps you should ask yourself why China’s neighbors are nervous. Why exactly do Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Australia all continue to seek close military relations with the U.S.? Why are Vietnam, Malaysia, and India wary of China? Is everyone simply misguided? Or could there be good reasons to fear and suspect China’s motives and increasing influence?

Bill: "Seeing as the Chinese have not even announced plans that they want to establish just a small naval base somewhere in the Indian Ocean, worrying about them suddenly establishing numerous naval bases 'surrounding' India is just plain paranoia."

You simply don't know what you're talking about, Bill. For a start, you might read Robert Kaplan's recent essay in the Apr/May 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs about Chinese and Indian competition for control and influence in the Indian Ocean. Here's a brief taste:

"The Chinese government has already adopted a 'string of pearls' strategy for the Indian Ocean, which consists of setting up a series of ports in friendly countries along the ocean's northern seaboard. It is building a large naval base and listening post in Gwadar, Pakistan, (from which it may already be monitoring ship traffic through the Strait of Hormuz); a port in Pasni, Pakistan, 75 miles east of Gwadar, which is to be joined to the Gwadar facility by a new highway; a fueling station on the southern coast of Sri Lanka; and a container facility with extensive naval and commercial access in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Beijing operates surveillance facilities on islands deep in the Bay of Bengal. In Myanmar, whose junta gets billions of dollars in military assistance from Beijing, the Chinese are constructing (or upgrading) commercial and naval bases and building roads, waterways, and pipelines in order to link the Bay of Bengal to the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. Some of these facilities are closer to cities in central and western China than those cities are to Beijing and Shanghai, and so building road and rail links from these facilities into China will help spur the economies of China's landlocked provinces. The Chinese government is also envisioning a canal across the Isthmus of Kra, in Thailand, to link the Indian Ocean to China's Pacific coast--a project on the scale of the Panama Canal and one that could further tip Asia's balance of power in China's favor by giving China's burgeoning navy and commercial maritime fleet easy access to a vast oceanic continuum stretching all the way from East Africa to Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

"All of these activities are unnerving the Indian government. With China building deep-water ports to its west and east and a preponderance of Chinese arms sales going to Indian Ocean states, India fears being encircled by China unless it expands its own sphere of influence. The two countries' overlapping commercial and political interests are fostering competition, and even more so in the naval realm than on land. Zhao Nanqi, former director of the General Logistics Department of the People's Liberation Army, proclaimed in 1993, 'We can no longer accept the Indian Ocean as an ocean only of the Indians.' India has responded to China's building of a naval base in Gwadar by further developing one of its own, that in Karwar, India, south of Goa. Meanwhile, Zhang Ming, a Chinese naval analyst, has warned that the 244 islands that form India's Andaman and Nicobar archipelago could be used like a 'metal chain' to block the western entrance to the Strait of Malacca, on which China so desperately depends. 'India is perhaps China's most realistic strategic adversary,' Zhang has written. 'Once India commands the Indian Ocean, it will not be satisfied with its position and will continuously seek to extend its influence, and its eastward strategy will have a particular impact on China.'"

"The Indians need to grow up."

Yeah! How dare they harbour that international terrorist mastermind the Dalai Lama and offer refuge to those who have fallen under the evil separatist spell of the robed one. The man's a walking grenade launcher.

I can't believe legitimate people are reacting to a post on iiss.cn, and calling it a strategic website and the poster as strategic. Do they even to bother to take a long at the website first? On the home page, it a have a J-10 vs. LCA poll, and I'm not kidding. And the it was a forum posting by one of its member. The equivalent of this to have new papers in China and university professor responding to a post Bharat-Rakshak.com and treating it as serious Indian strategy.

Also worth reading is this essay (in English / by an Indian author) from August 14 on aspects of the Sino-Indian relationship. It's refreshingly reasonable. You can find it here.

@Stinky I'm basing my views on a much older article, though I don't think its that old at 2 years. It basically says that the Chinese military prescence in the region is all hearsay.

I don't deny that the Chinese are building up the area, but I just don't think that its purely military in nature, after all the Chinese of today seem to care more about making money. Any military advantages they may gain through the building of these ports is just an "added bonus" in addition to the monetary and economic advantage I believe they are primarily aiming for. If this is the case, then isn't it in India's best interest to match them economically too? If India just tries to match the military aspect of the Chinese presence (which I state again is basically just an "added bonus" in that it would be there purely to protect Chinese investment in the region) instead of the much more important economic aspect, then India will end up much like the Soviet Union did (ie go bankrupt and fall to pieces). I mean really, India's worried about China possibly building a canal through Thailand? True that it might make it easier for Chinese warships, but as if the Chinese would build the canal just for that purpose alone. During peace time, that canal would offer huge savings in both fuel and time, benifitting everyone in the region (except maybe Singapore, but that's another story).

Anyway, here's the article I was talking about:

Chinese whispers: The Great Coco Island mystery - Andrew Selth, Tue 9 Jan 2007

How a single news agency report led to the accepted belief that China has a sophisticated intelligence post in Burmese waters

[Clipped full article quotation and added link to original. Read it there. -JM]

Shameless as ever, stinky.

Your problem is that you have one set of standards for China and you have another set of standards for everyone else. Sure I agree the Chinese are very much pathetic to say that their feelings are hurt and I think they should stop making themselves look like cry babies that will never grow up. And I am saying the same to the Indians here. The shameless you basically are saying the fears of the Indians are justified while those of the Chinese are not, and since China is ruled by thugs known as the CCP the Chinese deserve to be surrounded by countries with ill-intentions. If this is not hypocrisy, what is?

Just in case I have not made myself clear: If tabloids such as New York Post, the Washington Times, or the Weekly Standard or whatever had published something advocating the breaking up of China, many Chinese would be angry for sure, I'd say they should just ignore the BS and grow up too. Isn't it what you would say to the Chinese in that case? So the question is, why are you telling the Chinese to grow up but not the Indians? If this is not double standard, what is?

Stinky, please don't play dumb (or am I simply mistaken and you are truly this dumb?), if we consider the security challenges faced by China from the mighty US, Japan and their smaller but powerful allies, India's security concerns are almost nothing. After all, we are talking about China and Pakistan here. China and Pakistan? US and Japan, plus India, SK, Australia etc.? I will leave this to you to figure out yourself if you haven't already.

And you are so naive to believe China would find herself in a much different situation if China were to get rid of the CCP and democratizes. Unless China takes orders from Washington like the Japanese do without hesitation, China will always be considered a threat and surrounded by the US and its allies, whether China is democratic or authoritarian.

And lastly, any major power or big powerful country conceived by others is bound to raise some eyebrows, be it China, the US, Japan, Germany, India or whoever. Don't tell me much of the world is not suspicious of the intentions of the US. And India? Name one neighboring country who is not wary of India, other than Bhutan. Nepal? Sri Lanka? Bangladesh? Who are you fooling stinky?

Not that I am saying the Chinese leadership should not go out of their way to please everybody. I do think having a more positive image overseas helps advance China's interests over all. However there is only so much one can do. Who cares what you think stinky? The CCP will probably outlive you anyway.

Pfeffer -

Even coming from you, that's a really dumb comment. Just two things:

1) Pfeffer: "Who cares what you think stinky?"

You for one. Otherwise, why the lengthy response?

2) Pfeffer: "The CCP will probably outlive you anyway."

Huh?

"f tabloids such as New York Post, the Washington Times, or the Weekly Standard"

"takes orders from Washington like the Japanese do without hesitation"

Ahahahaha, defensive nationalist spotted! Opinion disregarded. Couldn't hide it for long, could you? Only two posts!

China should count itself lucky this little manifesto never made it past the internet. It would only serve to alert and unite Indians into an entity stronger than ever before.

Sigh......don't you people have better things to do?

Cyber space is swarming with angry youths who have every kind of wild fantasy possible and who need no encouragement to voice them and spread them like the wild oats they are too pimpled-ugly to physically sow. Indians, Koreans and Japanese are certainly not far behind in this game. There is nothing unique here. I have read posts and comments by mad Hindus who claim half of China to be Indian, and that Indian Army is the only uncorrupted means of peace and justice in the world, that India actually won the border war against China in 1962, and that Indian Ocean is an inland lake for the nation of India...etc, etc. Should that make me think any less of India and Indians?

What amazes me is why would anyone give it anything more than a half-smile. Get a life, boys.

RE India vs. China: a look at the cause of the 1962 Sino-Indian War may give a clue. link

Anyway reading it will be time better spent than the pointless, ignorant opinionating above.

Stinky,

Is that all you could come up with? Sure, I for one cared about what you think when I shouldn't have. I wasted my time big time. Seriously though, I think the CCP will outlive you, me and all of us commenting here. Not necessarily the CCP in its current form, in some shape or form I think the CCP will stick around for a long time to come. Sure, just my hunch.

Rodinhas,

Are you telling me New York Post, the Washington Times and the Weekly Standard are not tabloids but serious newspapers? Give me a break!

Is Japan not taking orders from Washington without hesitation? When was the last time you saw the Japanese foreign policy deviating from the American one?

Sure, go tell every Indian you know about China's evil plan to break up India. Let the Indians bitch and moan, the Chinese are afriad of the Indians or something? Are we expecting Hindu suicide bombers in Beijing and Shanghai? Ohhh, the Chinese are so scared!! haha

@Pfeffer: this kind of rhetoric will only turn your comments into embarassment to reasonable Chinese. Please do not adopt a similar, reductive view of the world as your opponents did.

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