Article by Commander Sandeep Dhawan (Veteran)
Most of the Earthlings keep looking at the happenings in the Middle East, in horror. We assume, and many times are made to believe, that any time this conflict may spill over to the other regions of the world, making way for World War III. If we thought that the 21st-century World War would be fought, just like the previous two wars, then we are sadly mistaken. In fact, without our awareness, World War III has already begun. This is a long drawn war, which would last for a couple of decades. The war can be divided into three phases:
- Phase 1 – Masquerading
- Phase 2 – Utter Chaos
- Phase 3 – Subjugation
Phase 1- Masquerading
We are towards the end of ‘Phase 1’. The developments until now were looking, in control, and moving in a linear fashion. However, some of the recent developments indicate, that few aspects of ‘Phase 2’ have emerged preternaturally, which is hastening the world towards ‘Phase 2’, in a disorderly manner.
Amongst many, the most important pillars of modern-day warfare are economic, psychological, and technological warfares. These pillars are so integrated that despite being separate entities, they intersect and complement each other, regularly.
WINNING WITHOUT FIGHTING
In the 80s, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, along with the opening of the Chinese economy, ushered in the vision for the Chinese supremacy. The coming two decades were dedicated to ancient Chinese wisdom of “Deck the Tree with False Blossoms”(Through the use of artifice and disguise, make something of no value, appear valuable), and “Deceive the heavens and cross the ocean”(Mask your real goals with a fake goal, until your aims are achieved). Let us see, how the whole plan was implemented.
DECEPTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE – THE MAKING OF CHIMERICA
Soon after the opening of the Chinese economy in the 80s, both the United States and China had their goals set. The United States wanted China to join the mainstream world, and open up it’s vast markets to the western world. China had its sight set on achieving its past glory. Education and technological advancements were the need of the hour for China. Soon, the exchange programs were introduced. Chinese students and scientists inundated the American universities, and research institutions, to fulfill that dream. Rampant stealing of the American trade secrets, military secrets and research papers by these students and scientists leapfrogged Chinese progress.
The initial plans of “Feign Madness but Keep your Balance”(Hide behind the mask of a simpleton, to create confusion about your intentions and motivations), were fulfilled by the turn of the millennium. China got the best and cutting edge technology from around the globe, in its factories. This improved China’s know-how of the latest technology in the world, at no extra cost. China didn’t work on hunches and hopes; rather, it took into account a full consideration of all prevailing constraints and contemporary realities in the larger context, to move steadily towards its goals. The hundred-year marathon is one such plan, and China is determined to climb that tower of Babel, at any cost. China wants to be the number one country in the world by the year 2049 – the hundredth year of the revolution.
CONSOLIDATION – THE PREPARATORY PHASE
Soon into the 21st century, China started consolidating its position in various fields. The United States and the rest of the world were busy with the conflicts in West Asia. This kept the attention away from China. China remained focused on its goals and never took part in any peacekeeping force, or conflict resolution. China quietly kept spreading its wings in Africa, Australia, N & S America, and The South China Sea, militarily and economically. It was building Islands and military bases in the disputed South China Sea with impunity, adding to China’s economic and military reach. China’s purchase of mines and rare earth deposits, all over the world, was considered an innocuous investment. However, no one realized that China was building the capacity, which could choke crucial supplies to any country, which didn’t toe its line. In 2015 alone, China invested over $60 billion in Africa. By 2018, the staggering figure had reached over $299 billion. China further strengthened its position by doling out loans for infrastructure and other projects to gullible countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ukraine, Venezuela, Ecuador, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. China is the sole lender in the world, who hopes, not to get the loans paid back. Nonpayment of loans, facilitates China in acquiring ports, airfields, and State-run companies, of defaulting countries, at a bargain price. This also gives China a foothold, in far-flung lands, which would be crucial, if and when, the hostilities break out.
The turn of the millennium was the right time to introduce many concepts in a more aggressive manner. One of them was to modify the thought process of the world, in China’s favor. The deception was the key ingredient of this concoction. Major western think-tanks, policymakers, and columnists were either hired for the purpose or misled into believing the deceptive information. The western media was flooded with advertisements depicting China, as a very powerful, very advanced but still very humble, and just country. Over 500 Confucius Institutes, on the campuses of foreign universities, were effectively used to further the spread of the Chinese way of thinking. University campuses were the right place to start the spread of Chinese psychological tool, ‘Alienation’. It aimed at generating dissension and discord in the intra-governments, military-civil, and intra-military groups of the rival countries. The purpose was simple, demoralize the key elements of the opposing forces at any cost. This task was further supported by a team of over 2 million hackers and deep-fakers. They bombard rival countries with disinformation and fake videos. The quality of these fakes is extremely good and has been successful in altering the opinion of the populace in many countries. Nepal is one such example. Chinese firmly believe in the phrase, “castles are inevitably easier to attack from within”.
FINANCIAL WARFARE – A WAY OF LIFE
Chart Courtesy: statista.com
The American ways of punishing countries economically, are old and outdated. China is the new champion of direct economic action. Case, in particular, is of South Korea’s Lotte Group. In Mar 2017, Lotte Group agreed to a land-swop deal with the Korean Government that permitted the latter to host the United States missile defence system THAAD. China perceived THAAD as a threat, and responded strongly against Lotte, by closing down 90 of its stores in China. Lotte lost $9.6 billion for legitimately handing over land to its own government, in its own country. This action of China indicated that it is either getting aggressive or desperate.
Many other innovative companies world over, are also bleeding profusely, due to various Chinese actions. Integrated circuits company Micron, Dutch semiconductor company ASML, steel producer U.S. Steel, battery company A123 Systems, microchip producer ATopTech are all victims of Chinese espionage and bankruptcy buyout. Motorola, once a leading American company, was amongst the first few to get into China. China had one condition, Motorola teaches the latest and most advanced technology to its Chinese employees and suppliers. Motorola knew that China would copy the company’s technology and become a competitor. But in its greed to capture the Chinese market, it committed suicide. Motorola was eventually bought by a Chinese company, Lenovo. Boeing, Apple, Pratt and Whitney, Microsoft, Tesla, and many others also remained ignorant, and have lost billions, while trying to capture the Chinese market. China is estimated to be accountable for 50 to 80 percent of intellectual property theft worldwide. China is also accused of over 90 percent of cyber-enabled economic espionage in the United States. It has been estimated by various economic groups that Chinese intellectual property theft is damaging the U.S. economy by over $300 billion annually.
China had heavily invested the revenue earned from exports, in the U.S. Treasury Bonds. China owns almost a fourth of the U.S. debt, owned by foreigners($1.09 Trillion), which is a ticking bomb. If China, withdraws this money, it would lead to the free fall of the dollar and start a currency war. However, time for the currency war would come in ‘Phase 2’.
TECHNOLOGICAL SUPREMACY – THE LAST STUMBLING BLOCK
Innovative Economies: Courtesy wipo.int
In the last decade, China recognized that transfer of basic technology from the West is not going to help it realize its plan. Access to the latest and cutting edge, military and commercial technology was urgently needed. To achieve that aim, China introduced a new principle, ‘Besiege Wei to rescue Zhao’(When the enemy is too strong to be attacked directly, then attack something he holds dear). China’s strategy was to rob, replicate and replace. Rob the technologically advanced companies of its intellectual property (IP), replicate the technology, and replace the original company in the Chinese market in the present day and, globally, in the future.
China’s J-22 and J-31 fighter planes bear the striking resemblance to the American F-22 Raptor and F-35 respectively. Both the designs were stolen by a Chinese national named Su Bin, who got away with just 46 months in the U.S. federal prison, for his crime. Chinese hackers have been targeting dozens of western universities and private companies over the past many years to steal military-related maritime technology. China is also desperate to make a passenger airplane, to break the American and the French monopoly. They have already hacked and stolen the airplane body designs. The airplane(COMAC) is ready but it lacks a reliable engine. ‘Make in China 2025’, has been launched to fulfill all such dreams, and put China on a fast trajectory.
The question comes, how China gets away with all these thefts. The answer is simple, to escape the American legal system, China has an innovative strategy called, military-civil fusion. This means that IP theft is undertaken by the Chinese military. In case of any legal challenge in the American courts, the commercial venture washes it’s hands off the espionage, since the hacking and stealing was done by the military. This ‘Economic Warfare’ damages the enemy monetarily, and the ‘Psychological Warfare’ breaks the morale of the commercial entities and the military.
AI Competitive Advantage: Courtesy deloitte.com
The quickest, and hassle-free way to get high-tech know-how is to invest in critical technology companies in the West. China has done exactly that. Understanding the intentions of China well, Western countries are worried about the safety of their technological innovation and national security. The investments have been done in the companies, involved in artificial intelligence, augmented reality/virtual reality, robotics, and financial technology. China is already emerging as a leading country in the field of ‘Artificial Intelligence’(AI) and ‘Biotechnology’. Proficiency in the production of autonomous drones(UCAV, UCS, UUV), robotic swarms, and remote and nanorobot are taking China, to a different level of modern warfare. AI is revolutionizing the economic and psychological warfare. Imagine the repercussions of a deep-fake video of a military general or a President addressing the troops or the nation. The false dissemination could plunge a country into a civil war, or a war with another country. Go through this YouTube video to understand it better:
Today China has achieved all the aims of ‘Phase 1’. It is the number two economy in the world. It is technologically superior to most nations, and psychologically controlling the thoughts of every policymaker across the globe. In the year 2016, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping had indicated China’s readiness to move to ‘Phase 2’, he stated: “China has become a crucial factor in changing the world political and economic outlay. We need to work harder to turn our monetary strength into international institutional authority.” Is China preparing itself to implement the principle of: Exchange the roles of Host and Guest(Usurp leadership in a situation where you are normally subordinate)? However, the latest spread of pandemic, may force China to rethink its strategy. The sharp power is not working for China. The time may not be ripe for ‘Phase 2’. The world is waiting with bated breath, what would be China’s next move, and when would China undermine the superior American military, a very advanced American technology, the universal reserve currency US dollar, and the American’s world leadership position.
Article by Commander Sandeep Dhawan (Veteran)
The article was originally posted at insightful.co.in
Click here to read Part-2
References: 1. The Coming Chinese Wars – Peter Navarro 2. Asia’s Cauldron – Robert D. Kaplan 3. Has China Won – Kishore Mahbubani 4. Future Wars – Robert H. Latiff 5. heritage.org – winning without fighting-the Chinese psychological warfare challenge 6. heritage.org – the economic dimension-great power competition and the role 7. wipo.int/global_innovation_index/en/2019/ 8. fas.org/nuke/guide/china/doctrine/chinview/chinacont.html 9. nationalinterest.org – scary vision future warfare-humans are obsolete 10. forbes.com – ancient-wisdom 11. globalresearch.ca – China rise fall and re-emergence as a global power
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