Taking Down the Dragon – How to Contain China in Post-Coronavirus World

Taking Down the Dragon – How to Contain China in Post-Coronavirus World

India has three great adversaries – the Christian West, fundamentalist Islam and China. Among the three, it is China that poses the greatest threat because unlike the Abrahamic twins that are prepared to wait it out to devour India’s Hindu core, Chinese Exceptionalism cannot tolerate a powerful country on its periphery at any time. The Chinese idea of exceptionalism implies a belief that China is unique among nations because Chinese culture is superior and therefore all other countries must kowtow before it.

Lately, as Indian military power has surged, the Chinese have started looking at India as a geopolitical rival. This is a departure from the 20th century when Beijing viewed India with contempt due to its economic, social and military weaknesses. Also, the lack of a strategic culture in such a large country – that faced numerous problems – didn’t exactly impress the Chinese whose military hero is the legendary 6th century BCE strategist Sun Tzu. (1)

In marked contrast with India, where the political leadership has historically displayed the Prithviraj syndrome of treating foreign threats lightly, the Chinese have consistently exhibited a hard-nosed attitude when it comes to international relations. For China, the ends dictate the means. A Chinese general would happily sell his own family into slavery if that act of his could extend the country’s boundaries an extra kilometre.

This is not a judgement of ordinary Chinese people who are not infected by the communist virus. Historically, they have been an energetic and inventive race with huge contributions to science, technology, art and philosophy. The ideas of Rome and Greece pale in front of the teachings of the great Confucius. On the entire planet, only Indians can claim a more ancient history and a loftier philosophy.

But the Chinese Communist Party is different – it is evil. The party has not only hijacked the country’s historic Mandate of Heaven (2) – which makes it compulsory for the rulers to deliver good governance – it has inherited China’s cold and cynical approach to statecraft. As the country’s behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic has revealed, this approach has infected its morality. The export of useless face masks made from underwear to Pakistan is being mocked by many Indians as symbolic of how a despotic tyrant treats its vassal (3). But that’s only one side of the story – the reality is that China doesn’t treat other nations very differently. At the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in China, Italy had donated personal protection equipment (PPE) to China; weeks later when Italy was in dire need of PPE, China offered to sell Italy’s donated equipment back to the Italians (4). In March 2020, China sold $467 million worth of faulty medical equipment to Madrid. The Spanish health minister revealed that a large quantity would have to be returned to China. The time and money Spain wasted on faulty supplies may have had devastating effects at a time when 800 people on an average were dying daily of the coronavirus in the country (5). The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and other countries have rejected Chinese-made coronavirus testing kits and protective equipment as substandard (6).

Expecting the Chinese Communist Party to treat foreigners humanely is too much to ask when Chinese citizens are treated no better. While the official coronavirus toll is 3,270 dead and 81,093 infections, several Chinese civilians have leaked out videos and documents disputing these figures. They point to the massive 21 million drop in cell phone users in the last three months (7). China, which has 1.6 billion mobile users, has never previously experienced a fall in its mobile subscriber base. If just 10 percent of this drop is related to the pandemic, over 2.1 million Chinese people may have lost their lives. This is no big deal in modern China whose communist leader Mao Zedong was responsible for the deaths of 70 million Chinese during the period 1949-1961 (8).

Such callous disregard for human life shows the Chinese Communist Party is a malevolent force that is prepared to destroy anything that comes in its path. To understand how China works, here are three historical case studies that reveal Beijing’s complete lack of scruples.

Eliminating the Turgesh

In the early part of the eighth century CE, the newly converted Arabs were bursting out of Iraq, bringing death, destruction and Islamic jehad to the polytheistic tribes of Transoxiana, the portion of Central Asia corresponding approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, southern Kyrgyzstan and southwest Kazakhstan.

The Umayyad Caliphate based in Syria brought into the Muslim world the Indian kingdom of Sindh, North Africa, southern Spain and Transoxiana where they clashed with the Turgesh, a Turkic tribal confederation. The Turgesh, whose religion included elements of Shamanism, Tengrism and nature worship, were vassals of China’s Tang Dynasty. By 710 CE, they were strong enough that their khan (chief) Suluk decided that they were ready to drive the Umayyad invaders out of Transoxiana (9). Suffering under intolerant Islamic rule and having to pay the head tax (jaziya) imposed on non-Muslims, the local inhabitants joined Suluk. In 719 CE, a coalition of polytheistic Iranian and Turkic tribes sent a petition to the Tang dynasty in China and the Turgesh for military aid against the Muslims. The Chinese offered nothing but Suluk, who wanted to reconquer all of Transoxiana from the Arab invaders, and said he would come to their rescue.

In 721 CE, Turgesh forces defeated the Muslim army near Samarkand in modern day Uzbekistan. Three years later, the Caliph Hasham sent another army to defeat the Turks but Suluk’s forces massacred the Arabs almost to the last man. In 728, the Turgesh captured Bukhara after a string of victories over the Muslims. In 731, in the Battle of the Defile that was fought in modern Uzbekistan, Turgesh Khaganate defeated a large Umayyad Caliphate army, killing 12,000 Muslim soldiers. By 736 CE, the Turgesh flag was flying over most of Transoxiana.

However, the Umayyad Caliphate fired by the zeal of jehad wasn’t about to give up. It possessed vast resources – the prodigious quantities of wealth looted from the Hindu kingdom of Sindh alone was enough to last a generation. Plus, the Caliph controlled an area of 11 million square kilometres with a population of 33 million. The nomadic Turgesh on the other hand lived in the relatively poor and sparsely populated steppes. Without a strong ally, they were not in a position to stem the relentless inroads of the Muslim hordes. That wasn’t going to happen – the Chinese had made up their mind that the Arabs posed no threat to them. They just wanted the Turgesh to be wiped out.

That’s exactly what happened. Bereft of allies, the Turgesh resistance in Central Asia ended in 737 CE when the Arabs defeated khan Suluk in the Battle of Kharistan in the modern-day Afghanistan. China had cleared the way for Islamic forces to conquer almost all of Central Asia.

Betraying Tibet

In the seventh and eighth centuries CE, Tibet was one of the most powerful countries in Central Asia. To give you an idea of how powerful this mountainous country was, in the year 648 CE, a Tibetan army raided India via Sikkim and reached Bengal (10). The Tibetans also proved to be more than a match for their larger Chinese neighbour and often defeated them in battle. They were a rugged bulwark against the new menace of Islamic armies.

In 753 CE, the Tang dynasty, which was facing an internal rebellion in China, desperately appealed to Tibet for help. As payment, the Chinese emperor promised to hand over the regions of Anxi and Beiting to the Tibetans. The Tibetan Army blocked the advancing rebel forces and destroyed the various factions that were laying waste to the territories held by the Chinese emperor. This action saved the Tang dynasty from disaster (11).

However, instead of honouring their agreement with the Tibetans, the Chinese sent 10,000 bolts of silk as reward. Since this was breach of the emperor’s original promise, it led to escalated tensions with Tibet. Having turned a friend into a foe due to pure opportunism – an enduring Chinese attribute spanning millennia – the Emperor decided to enlist the help of the enemy’s enemy, the Abbasid Caliphate based in Iraq, in order to contain the Tibetans. The Tang dynasty sent a diplomatic mission to the Abbasid court via the sea route.

After his parleys with the Arabs, the Chinese eunuch diplomat Yang Liangyao wrote in his despatch to the emperor that the Arabs “honour China and have been hostile to the Tibetan people for generations. So, I know that we can ally with them”.

The plan was as diabolic as it was cunning. No records were to be kept of this agreement in order to make everything look more like a matter of luck than a twist of foreign policy: the Arabs would “accidentally” attack the Tibetans, and the Tang dynasty would be relieved from a major foreign policy problem.

The grand alliance of the Muslims and Chinese forced the Tibetans into a corner. With a single cynical masterstroke, China had eliminated its nearest rival.

Backstabbing India

In 1958, when a Chinese military delegation visited Ambala, Haryana, Lt Col (later Lt Gen) JFR Jacob of 4 Infantry Division was asked to organise a firepower demonstration for them. During the banquet organised for the visitors, Jacob was taken back by the highly provocative remarks by a Chinese general who said, “China would never forget that Indian troops took part in the sacking and looting of the Summer Palace (in Beijing) during the 2nd Opium War.” He went on to make other contentious remarks, writes Jacob (12).

Jacob (the only Jewish general in the Indian Army) reported the conversation to his commanding officer Maj Gen B.K. Kaul, who dismissed the matter, saying Jacob must have misunderstood the Chinese general. Jacob replied that he had not, which caused Kaul to show his resentment. Kaul, described as a “political general, militarily incompetent and over-ambitious” (13), simply didn’t want to go against the narrative built by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his sidekick Krishna Menon of a peaceful and friendly China.

Those were the days when “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai” was the catch phrase in India. In 1950, the Indian political leadership had sacrificed its strategic interests by rejecting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council with the right to veto any resolution India did not approve. The Eisenhower administration had offered to give China’s permanent seat to India. However, Nehru rejected the offer and insisted that priority be given to China’s admission to the United Nations. “We shall go on pressing for China’s admission in the UN and the Security Council,” he said, adding, “India, because of many factors, is certainly entitled to a permanent seat in the Security Council. But we are not going in at the cost of China.” (14) In 1955, the Russians made a similar offer, with the difference that India would be made the sixth member of the Council. Nehru told Russian leader Nikolai Bulganin that it was not “an appropriate time” for India to be made a permanent member and that “we should first concentrate on getting China admitted”. (15)

Nehru dismissed any possibility that China would attack India, given the “fortunate location of the Himalayan mountain chain” on their common border. He told President Eisenhower that instead of building defences along the 2,900 km long border, India would stay neutral in the Cold War and seek to build friendly ties with China. (16) India’s generosity was rewarded in 1962 when the Chinese sent 80,000 PLA soldiers across the Himalayan border and occupied 90,000 sq. km of land in Ladakh. All the while that India was projecting China as an Asian sister state, the Chinese had been planning to teach India a lesson. Every time China pisses on India at the UN, you can thank Nehru for it.

China’s rise explained

The world’s love affair with China started around 300 years ago. By the early or mid-17th century, many observers in the West were greatly interested in the Chinese. “European views of China tended to be admiring. That stemmed not only from the writings of (the Venetian) Marco Polo, the Jesuits and other travellers, but the general impression of China’s size and riches.” (17)

The situation changed after the Chinese embraced communism in the 1940s. Now the Yellow Peril had become the Red Peril in the eyes of the West. However, 30 years later, their sins were whitewashed by US President Richard Nixon and his sidekick Henry Kissinger who ushered in a new era of US-Chinese relations and effectively removed China as a Cold War foe. This policy opened up China to every Western country, Japan and America’s allies in South East Asia.

Just like Marco Polo had written glowing accounts of China, based solely on the orderliness and beauty of the city of Beijing and ignoring the poverty, grime and famines that were a feature of the provinces, similarly, after Nixon’s detente with China, the Western media fell into a swoon over Chinese culture, history, art, architecture and food.

The West bent backwards to appease the Chinese. In this one-sided love, the Chinese were required to do only one thing – act as a counter against the Russians. This was hardly a requirement at all as the Chinese had already become the sworn enemy of the Soviet Union, especially after the 1969 border war. In return, the West and Japan pumped in hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of investment. This not only made China rich but also hollowed out Western (and to some extent) Japanese manufacturing.
Today, industries in the US, Europe and Japan are hostage to Chinese. Smaller Western countries such as Italy and France are so dependent on Chinese markets and component outsourcing that they cannot dare to punish Beijing for supplying faulty masks and medical equipment.

Taking down the dragon

About the Chinese, it is said that they hate the West (its former oppressor), fear Japan (its ancient conqueror) and despise India. The reasons for despising India are that according to the Chinese, Indian troops had taken part in the sacking of the Summer Palace and Indian business houses had supplied opium to the British who were trying to convert the Chinese into opium addicts. This contempt for India is counter-intuitive because both events happened during the colonial period when Indians did whatever they were compelled to do by the British rulers. Such irrationality is typical of communists who see non-communists as “running dogs of imperialism” who are fit to be put down like a mad dog.

With China harbouring deep-rooted grouses against these three powers, it can be safely assumed that the Chinese Communist Party will try to weaken and destroy them whenever it feels the time is right. The outpouring of hatred and calumny directed at the rest of world reeling under the pandemic is due to the fact that China’s mask slipped momentarily. If Beijing can act so perfidiously when it is itself fighting the coronavirus, one can only imagine what it’ll do when it has a good hand.

Since China has been supporting Pakistan in its jehad against India, there’s no reason for India to offer the hand of friendship to the communists. Only a fool like Nehru or fifth columnists like the left-liberals will believe that the dragon can be trusted. In the backdrop of a die-hard communist bully that is dedicated to India’s destruction, India’s political and military leadership needs a strategy to cut the dragon to size. Here’s what India can do.

1. Surround China with a Grand Alliance

In the Arthashastra, Chanakya (the great strategist of the Mauryan Empire) lays out a theory of the international system called the Rajamandala – Circle of States. According to this theory, hostile states are those that border the ruler’s state, forming a circle around it. In turn, states that surround this set of hostile states form another circle around the circle of hostile states. This second circle of states can be considered the natural ally of the ruler’s state against the hostile states that lie between them. In India’s case, the natural allies are the US and Japan. On this front, India’s integration into the US war machine has rattled China. One of the results of this informal alliance is that the US, Japan and India are able to jointly track Chinese submarine activity all the way from the moment they leave their bases in the South China Sea, pass through the narrow Malacca Straits and enter the Indian Ocean. All three nations also jointly conduct mock combat exercises. The next step should be to have joint tri-nation forces stationed in the Himalayas, the South China Sea and Japan.

The US pivot to the Pacific has transferred the bulk of American warplanes, warships and intelligence gatherings close to China’s shore. With its ancient enemy Japan rapidly arming and developing advanced weapon platforms after 70 years of self-imposed isolation, the pressure on China in the east is immense. If India can ramp up the pressure in the west by increasing the number of troops, building new air bases, equipping troops with large numbers of BrahMos cruise missiles, adding long range radars and extended range air defence missiles, the dragon will enter panic mode and you can expect Beijing to become unhinged and enter a costly arms race that it can’t win. What happened to the Soviet Union during the Cold War can happen to China.

China had decided a long time ago that it won’t enter into an arms race with the US but it will have to when India and Japan start re-arming. Like India today, the Chinese military must feel the pain of preparing for its own two-front war. This would be payback for China’s “String of Pearls” strategy that aims to surround India.

2. Double the defence budget

India’s defence budget is $66 billion or just 1.5 per cent of GDP (18). While many will be aghast if India hikes its defence budget to, say, $132 billion, the reality is that securing the country is not a casual matter; it’s an existential issue which deserves to be dealt with seriously. Since the mid-1990s, India has faced a low-intensity war waged by Pakistan with support from China. Like it or not, we are at war and our soldiers are dying every day. In this scenario, doubling of the defence budget to 5 percent is just like taking out a large insurance on your home.

Currently, the Indian strategy versus Pakistan is to launch a blitzkrieg attack from the get go. Against China, India is in a defensive mode; the strategy is to stop a large-scale land and air attack by the Chinese. Doubling the defence budget will flip this equation – it will allow the Indian Army to take the battle into Tibet instead. This will require setting up additional Mountain Divisions, and that costs money. The Chinese must realise that India is prepared to hit the Han homeland if attacked.

A large hike in defence spending will certainly impact some development projects in India but the massive impetus it will give to the country’s military-industrial sector will compensate for the losses.

3. Eat China’s lunch – Fast forward Make in India

China’s biggest advantage is its manufacturing sector, which has become a leviathan due to massive investment from the West and Japan. Take away this advantage and you can make China poor again. China’s oxygen is access to global markets, especially those in America, Europe, Japan and India, plus it needs scientific knowledge from Western universities. As Lee Kuan Yew, the late leader of Singapore, wrote, “China knows that it needs access to US markets, US technology, opportunities for Chinese students to study in the US and bring back to China new ideas about new frontiers” (19). He adds, “The Chinese have calculated that they need 30 to 40, maybe 50, years of peace and quiet in order to catch up, build up their system, change it from the communist system to the market system.”

During the Cold War, the West was so besotted with China that all Indian entreaties to see the dark side of the dragon were rebuffed. Considering that India’s feckless leader Nehru hated the West and was allied with the communists, you can’t blame the West for siding with China. Now that India has dumped the baggage of socialism and is integrated into the Western economic and military ecosystem, it is a credible alternative to China as a manufacturing base.

The portents are favourable for India. US President Donald Trump has taken concrete steps to bring jobs back from China to the US, and that process could accelerate. For instance, Apple is now manufacturing iPhones outside China. Other American allies are taking Trump’s lead. Furious over China’s handling of the pandemic (20), Japan has decided that it is time to pull out component manufacturing from China. In the wake of Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese imports, a growing number of Asian manufacturers producing items ranging from memory chips to machine tools are moving to shift production from China to other factories in the region. (21)

For jobs to relocate to India, Make in India has to work. Indian companies in cutting-edge sectors must be nurtured and supported with subsidies and tax breaks so that they are able to grow into large enterprises that can compete with Chinese manufacturers. The political leadership must restrict the entry of Chinese products but without violating the spirit of the World Trade Organisation. Japan grew into a technological giant because its people supported Japanese products when Made in Japan had the same connotations as Made in China. India’s leadership must inculcate such feelings among Indians so that they support Indian brands.

4. Recall the Mandate of Heaven

The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy predicated on the conduct of the ruler in question. The Mandate of Heaven postulates that heaven would bless the authority of a just ruler, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate, leading to the overthrowing of that ruler. The Mandate of Heaven would then transfer to those who would rule best. (22)
The Mandate of Heaven is a well-accepted and popular idea among the people of China, as it argues for the removal of incompetent or despotic rulers, and provides an incentive for rulers to rule well and justly. The concept is often invoked by philosophers and scholars in ancient China as a way to curtail the abuse of power by the ruler, in a system that otherwise offered no other check to this power. The Mandate of Heaven had no time limitations, instead depending on the just and able performance of the ruler. In the past, times of poverty and natural disasters were taken as signs that heaven considered the incumbent ruler unjust and thus in need of replacement.

It is clear that a significant number of Chinese citizens are being hurt under the despotic rule of the Chinese Communist Party. The Party is basically a mafia – a dishonest organisation that lies to its people and the world. As the coronavirus episode showed, Chinese scientists and doctors who tried to provide the world with the true picture of the pandemic were silenced – possibly forever. Ordinary Chinese are being treated like lab rats. (23)
To quote communism’s evil muse Vladimir Lenin, “Yesterday was too early, tomorrow too late. The time is today.” If there’s anything good that has come out of the pandemic, it is that China’s perfidious nature and its systemic weaknesses have been exposed in front of the entire world. It has recently come to light that Beijing has all along been lying about the biggest success story of the 21st century – the Chinese economic miracle. In a paper published in March 2020 by the Brookings Institution, four economists – Wei Chen, Xilu Chen and Michael Song of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, along with Chang-Tai Hsieh of the University of Chicago – say that China has been over-reporting its growth rate by an average of 1.7 percentage points every year. After looking at hard to fake data, they found that China’s official 2018 GDP is $13.4 trillion but the actual figure is $11.1 trillion or lower. (24)

The Brookings paper squares with an assessment made over a decade ago by John Lee of the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney that China is in more trouble than the world realises. For example, the Chinese government deals with an estimated 124,000 instances of “mass unrest” each year, and that number is rising. “The country’s civil society and institutions are weak, corruption is worsening and Beijing finds it almost impossible to effectively implement policies in the majority of its provinces and administrative zones.” (25)

Unlike India’s open-source, free-thinking society, China is a closed communist regime where ordinary people are treated like serfs. The country is a plutocracy in which more than 90 percent of the country’s 10,000 richest individuals are Communist Party members. China has become the most unequal country in Asia according to this measurement.
Singapore’s Yew had observed that China has more handicaps going forward and more obstacles to overcome than most observers recognise. “Chief among these are… cultural habits that limit imagination and creativity, rewarding conformity; a language that shapes thinking through epigrams and 4,000 years of texts that suggest that everything worth saying has already been said, and said better by earlier writers; a language that is exceedingly difficult for foreigners to learn sufficiently to embrace China and be embraced by its society; and severe constraints on its ability to attract and assimilate talent from other societies in the world.” (26)

The Chinese economy is often described by the left-liberal media as a giant steamroller that will flatten everything else in its path. This has created an aura of invincibility around China. India must take the lead in exposing China’s systemic weaknesses to the Chinese people. Because news in China is censored, and Facebook, Twitter and Google are banned, most of the population depends on hearsay.

The need of the hour is to broadcast TV and radio programmes, with an Indian spin, to Chinese audiences. An excellent template is available in the form of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty which the US has founded to beam broadcasts into countries such as Russia and Iran. Since Indian movies enjoy considerable popularity in China, Bollywood studios can be roped in to produce content that subtly conveys anti-communist messages. Intelligence agencies such as RAW and the IB can secretly pay producers to include anti-communist messages in Indian films.

The art of propaganda is as old as war. In fact, it was perfected by Indians. In the Arthashastra, Chanakya explains how to wage a “silent war” or Gudha-yuddha against an opponent. The tactics discussed include using both spies and diplomats to spread misinformation and false rumours about an opposing ruler among other royalty, government officials or entire populations. (27)


The power of a state is determined by how well it is prepared to eliminate its rivals. Unfortunately, India allowed the ogre of a jehadi state to grow into a nuclear power on its western periphery. India could have gone nuclear in 1961 (a year before the Chinese attack) when US President John F. Kennedy offered the atomic bomb, but in a decision that borders on the suicidal, Nehru rejected the offer (28). Nehru was adamant that Beijing posed no threat to India. Three years later, China exploded a nuclear bomb.

It should not have taken Indians 70 years to realise that the Chinese Communist Party is the Darth Vader of the geopolitical space. Throughout its existence, the Party has been working on India’s break-up and Balkanisation. When dealing with such an evil entity, India must set in motion efforts that will lead to the collapse of China. Only when China becomes a rump state, with rebellious provinces such as Tibet and Xinjiang breaking free, will the Chinese be forced to abandon their delusions of Balkanising India.

Breaking China won’t just ensure peace on the border and reduce its vassal Pakistan to insignificance, it will be an act of mercy on the 1.4 billion Chinese people who are trapped in the world’s largest prison.


1. Sun Tzu, The Art of War,
2. Mandate of Heaven,
3. Republic,
4. Live Mint,
5. Fox News,
6. ABC News,
7. The Epoch Times,
8. Hudson Institute,
9. Robert Haug, The Eastern Frontier: Limits of Empire in Late Antique and Early Medieval Central Asia, pages 131-135
10. Mynar R. Tulku, An Invasion of the North India After Harsha’s Death,;jsessionid=242A89906EBF904417DDC20F93C817C7
11. Angela Schottenhammer, Yang Liangyao’s Mission of 785 to the Caliph of Baghdad: Evidence of an Early Sino-Arabic Power Alliance?
12. JFR Jacob, An Odyssey in War and Peace, page 37
13. JFR Jacob, An Odyssey in War and Peace, page 37
14. The Wilson Centre, Not at the Cost of China, page 3,
15. The Wilson Centre, Not at the Cost of China, page 5,
16. The Brookings Institution, Ike And India, 1950–60, Chapter One, page 9
17. Harry Gelber, Dragon and the Foreign Devils, page 123
19. Medium,
20. TFT Post,
21. Japan Times,
22. Mandate of Heaven,
23. The Financial Times,
24. National Interest,
25. The American Interest,
26. 25. The American Interest,
27. Roger Boesche, ‘Kautilya’s Arthasastra on War and Diplomacy in Ancient India’, The Journal of Military History
28. The Economic Times,

Featured Image: Kiel Centre for Globalization

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Rakesh Krishnan Simha

Rakesh is a globally cited defence analyst. His articles have been quoted extensively by national and international defence journals and in books on diplomacy, counter-terrorism, warfare, and development of the global south.