"Respect the strong, blackmail the weak" ~ a Chinese saying.
It began with the original Han (ethnic Chinese) whose civilization first appeared north of the Yangtze River. Up there the main grain crops were wheat, barley and the like. Rice is a much more productive crop (in terms of calories produced per unit of land) but is more labor intensive and require a higher degree of organization and discipline. It also requires more water which is why the drier north (north of the Yangtze River) remained reliant on non-rice grains. It took centuries to perfect rice cultivation (nearly 10,000 years ago) , which is a more complex process than for other grains. The lesson for the West is that while the Chinese may appear monolithic they are anything but.
The Chinese government attack the communists right after Japan surrendered in August 1945. The Nationalist government of China underestimated the communists, who then proceeded to defeat all the Nationalist armies after about three years of fighting. The nationalists took a big gamble, sending their best troops into Manchuria in late 1945 to try to knock out the communists. This ignored the well-known fact that a huge Russian army had just defeated Japanese forces in Manchuria and the Russians were giving the Chinese communists huge quantities of military supplies. Had the nationalists been more prudent they would not have lost South China and the war, by 1948.
On the other hand, "the sheer size of the population makes refuge problem, the failed state and the followed crises (warlordism, civil war, crime, proliferation of nuclear weapons, etc) impossible for the world to deal with. Due to these three different considerations, the United States often oscillates from demonization to romaticization of China, from containment to engagement. The U.S.-China relationship has shifted from conflict, to confrontation, to competition and back to conflict, but so rarely features with cooperation."
"The US has largely abandoned its efforts, at least in the heart of Central Asia, and is in the process of disengagement east of the Caspian. China and Russia, however, are both aggressively pursuing their interests in the region and, to that end, the SCO and CSTO are drifting apart, with the SCO becoming more and more a Chinese enterprise rather than a joint Sino-Russian effort.
Now, it seems, that Russia is even looking upon the SCO as a true rival to its interests. This is an opportunity for the US – even as we retreat, we can use the reality of increasing Chinese influence in what Russia sees as its rightful sphere of influence as a means of both dividing those powers and of developing strategic cooperation with Russia to help contain Chinese strength. “Containment” is a word that China hates to hear, but the stronger it gets, the more likely it is to be openly embraced by all of her neighbours and rivals."
"China’s strategy is evident: to confine Indian strategic attention to the Sino-Indian border, preventing New Delhi from looking beyond at Tibet and Xinjiang, China’s most sensitive pressure points. Beijing apprehends --- with the fearfulness of a state that knows its weaknesses --- that signing a border settlement would free India from the burden of having to continually lay claim to, and physically defend, a challenged border. China realizes that a settlement would change the fundamental nature of the New Delhi-Beijing engagement. No longer a supplicant, India could raise the issue of Tibet, a lead that western democracies would quickly follow.
So far, India’s military, bureaucracy and political elite have fallen for China’s game, directing their energies into placating China in the hope of a border settlement. Realizing our ill preparedness to defend our territorial claims has created endemic strategic defensiveness. New Delhi remains disinclined to change the game by challenging China on Tibet.
This remains so despite frequent reminders of China’s vulnerabilities. On Tuesday, 21 people were killed near Kashgar, in Xinjiang, in a violent armed stand off. The anger against Beijing in its restive border regions was again underlined on Wednesday when two Tibetan monks in Sichuan set themselves afire, adding to the gory tally of more than 100 self-immolations since 2011. China has flooded Xinjiang and Tibet with black-suited armed militias, whose members now carry portable fire extinguishers to douse Tibetans who are attempting self-immolation. But there remains widespread resentment at Beijing’s increasingly colonial presence in these areas.
In contrast, India’s border population along the LAC remains heartwarmingly Indian. In Ladakh, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, despite New Delhi’s inexplicable neglect, pro-India sentiment is high and China is regarded with distrust and suspicion that is constantly reinforced from across the border."
In the southwest, it has been eying Gan Base in the Maldives hungrily, although so far without success. In the east, in the Bay of Bengal, it has a sophisticated listening post on the Great Coco Islands, which can monitor all Indian Shipping from Port Blair, Vishakhapatnam, Kolkata, Paradip, etc. (China has another listening post at Hainji island.) It has bases (as well as potential bases, since the PLA Navy (PLAN) enjoys right of usage) at the Myanmar ports of Akyab, Cheduba and Bassein, all of which it is helping to develop into naval ports with facilities for handling ships considerably larger and more sophisticated than what the Myanmar Navy currently possesses or is likely to possess in the near future. Similarly, in the Andaman Sea it has access to Tenassirim, which is most strategically located, fairly close to the Malacca Strait. All these bases or ports where Chinese Naval ships are permitted to dock and refuel, etc, can be used most effectively to block shipping to and from Indian ports.
Modi government has renamed the “Look East” policy as “Act East”, in an attempt to build a deeper engagement with East Asia and Southeast Asia. India and Vietnam are cooperating in oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. The sheer willingness of India to play an active role in the South China Sea, where China has overlapping territorial claims with several countries has spooked them. China has been wary of India-Japan increasing strategic relationship. China had raised eyebrows when India invited Japan along with USA to participate in the annual Exercise Malabar in the Western Pacific.
China has put $46 billion in infrastructural investment on the table for its long-time ally Pakistan, is set to build a network of roads, railroads, and port facilities which are part of the New Silk Road connecting China to Europe through Central Asia. Setting up the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has a clear commercial logic but equally a military one. The Port of Gwadar, being developed by PRC engineers since 2013, would be the terminus of the long overland line from Xinjiang in China’s remote and landlocked West. Yet Gwadar, once ruled by Oman but sold to Pakistan in the 1950’s, is quite close to the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz sea-lanes through which over forty percent of the world’s petroleum flows.
According to the approved plan, the eastern route will divert water from the lower Yangtze to Beijing along the ancient Grand Canal. The central route will take water from the Hanjiang River, a tributary of the Yangtze, and bring it 1,400 kilometers to Beijing and Tianjin. The two routes currently under construction have also been plagued with controversies. There are fears that water flowing along the eastern route will be so polluted after passing through industrial areas that by the time it reaches Beijing it will be very costly to treat. Major grazing areas would by submerged, and that will affect the livelihood of herders. The natural environment is also regarded as holy by local Tibetans.
The most favored western route is supposed to draw water from the Tongtian, Yalong and Dadu rivers, which run through Sichuan and Qinghai provinces. If successful that water would open huge new tracts of land to cultivation in the dry northwest in Gansu Province and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
The southern provinces want to build more than a dozen hydropower dams along the upper reaches of the Yangtze that would provide electricity for the region’s burgeoning industrial and urban growth. The local dams would stem the flow of water and make water diversion impossible. Critics say both the damming and diversion projects have failed to consider a key factor. The Yangtze River is also drying up and yet people are still fighting over water resources. As the Yangtze and Yellow rivers are two completely different ecosystems, linking them could have disastrous environmental and ecological impacts. Research shows the western route would damage the fragile ecosystem in the upper Yangtze region which is susceptible to earthquakes and mudslides. Winter freeze-over also reduces the flow of the rivers and would prevent the diversion project from ever meeting its target.
Upper stream provinces, particularly Sichuan, are strongly opposed to the western route as the water diversion would have severe ramifications for their own economies. Instead of building ever larger megaprojects, which are neither practical nor necessary, many experts say the focus should be on water conservation.
While China has the largest spatial share of the basin at over 50 percent, it generates only 22-30 percent of the total basin discharge. This is attributable to Tibet’s cold desert climate and the very low annual rainfall. In contrast, the Indian section of the basin, covering 34.2 percent of the basin area, contributes 39 percent of the total discharge. Equally significant is the contribution from Bhutan, which accounts for 6.7 percent of the total basin area but generates 21 percent of the system output. Isabel Hilton, editor of Chinadialogue, has argued that only 14 percent of the Brahmaputra’s flow is generated in China; the other 86 percent comes from India. Also, the utilizable water of the Brahmaputra system is a mere four percent of the total discharge, a reflection of the very high speed of the discharge and its sheer volume.
Next, even if the radical GWWDP were implemented, not all of the water of the Brahmaputra River generated in Chinese territory would be diverted. In fact, the project would divert only around 20 percent of the total water flows of six rivers in southwestern China, including the Mekong, Brahmaputra River, and Salween. As for the Brahmaputra River, even to discard the proposed water diversion volume, at maximum, around 50 percent of the water discharged will be affected as the diversion plan would start roughly in the middle part of the Brahmaputra River in Chinese borders. This is to say, even when 100 percent of the water at that point was diverted-an impossible scenario, it would only affect around 50 percent of the total water discharge originated from China.