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COVID-19 & the Chinese Theater: The Beginning of the End to China's Empire as we know it - Part 3

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

An illustration in the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, Peoples Daily on 25 March, 2020

How do you stand up to a Bully?

In most schools around the developed world, as well as in many developing countries, recent times have seen an intense debate on how to address the issue of bullying. responds to this vexing issue as follows - "Bullies do in general tend to stand down when their victims stand up to them. But circumstances often make that quite difficult. Especially when the bullying is condoned by the social group in which it takes place, standing up for oneself takes enormous strength that few children—few adults, in fact—have acquired. But the opposite also seems true: when no one in the social group tolerates bullying, bullies not only have trouble finding a victim but also often feel intimidated enough to stop seeking one out".

Much of what is true of individuals is surprisingly turning true for nations as well. Does that include the issue of bullying? Absolutely, as is proving to be true now more than ever before since the end of World War II.

COVID-19 has dealt a blow to the world where almost all nations lie procumbent on the ground, each struggling to regain its foothold in its own way with whatever resources it can grasp or be offered by others in the global community.


Ironically, the one nation responsible for the current state of affairs is eyeing this as a once in an eon opportunity to topple the existing world powers and usurp the throne to global supremacy. The need to change the global status quo has become all the more compelling for this nation as its ruling party faces increasing dissent among the ranks. There is scathing criticism for its leader on a weakening economy, failures on the diplomatic fronts to stave off the blame for starting the COVID-19 crisis in the first place and failing to deliver on the promise of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.


As Kevin Spacey's character, Frank Underwood said in the House of Cards - "When you are fresh meat, kill and throw them something fresher". That is exactly the ploy taken up by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in general and its dictator Xi Jinping in particular.

One of Frank Underwood's famed quotes from the Netflix series "House of Cards"

Source: Pinterest


Xi Jinping finds himself cornered by the detractors within his party, the CCP and the CCP finds itself cornered by the global community for the COVID-19 pandemic, and by the Chinese people for the economic crisis brewing at home. How do you find and throw them something fresher? By becoming the global bully that makes you look stronger and more powerful than the rest of the world.


The One Country that has Border Troubles with 21 Neighbors

Manufacturing a border dispute with a neighbor is an effective tactic for diverting attention from domestic troubles. That is exactly what Xi Jinping is doing today. Fortunately for him the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been stoking the fires of China's fabricated border disputes with 21 of its neighbors for years. Xi Jinping just needs to turn a few of them into bonfires to divert the attention of his population beset with disease, loss of jobs, poverty and rising discontent against the CCP's heavy handed ways.

So, which are the 21 countries with which China has territorial claims to settle?

  1. Philippines - China claims the Spratly Islands located in the South China Sea. Of course there are other nations that claim these islands besides the Philippines, but none can stand up to the might of the Chinese Navy. The International Court of Justice has declared that China has no jurisdiction of these islands. But, China chooses to ignore international rulings as and when it suits its foreign policy.

  2. Indonesia - China claims fishing rights in the waters near multiple Indonesian islands.

  3. Malaysia - Islands included in Malaysia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), are claimed by China.

  4. Laos - China claims large tracts of land based on what it calls historical precedence.

  5. Cambodia - China claims parts of Cambodia too, also on the grounds of historical precedence.

  6. Thailand - China has tried to dredge and recreate land on the Mekong river, in blatant disregard to Thailand's protests.

  7. Vietnam - The country has refused to accept China's territorial claims to several islands. China in return targets Vietnamese fishing boats.

  8. Japan - China claims the Senkaku Islands from Japanese control

  9. North Korea - You thought it was China's closest ally, next only to Pakistan? But China always exacts its pound of flesh be it friend or foe. In North Korea, China lays claim to Mount Paektu, the regions highest peak (2,744 meter) lying at the source of the Yalu and Tumen rivers.

  10. South Korea - China claims islands in the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

  11. Tajikistan - This dispute dates back to 1884.

  12. Kazakhstan - China claims 34,000 square kilometers of land in this nation.

  13. Kyrgyzstan - China claims the entire nation as a legitimate part of the Chinese mainland. In 1999, when this tiny nation defaulted on a Chinese loan, it was forced to hand over 1250 square kilometers of its territory to China.

  14. Russia - China claims 160,000 square kilometers of land in this giant neighbor's territory.

The list goes on with 7 other nations… India, Nepal, Bhutan, Taiwan, Brunei, Mongolia and Singapore.

Source: Pinterest

Standing Up to the Global Bully

Of all these 21 nations, border dispute with one particular nation has become a thorn in the flesh for China. What follows may create an indelible precedence for the world as it watches, on how to stand up to a global bully.


After an unprovoked attack on Indian soldiers by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) on 15 June 2020, at the Galwan valley in the Himalayas, which led to deaths on both sides, more so on the PLA side, India has begun to take a hardline stand against China's bullying tactics on its border. India has moved 30,000 troops to its border with China along with artillery, tanks and air support and shows no signs of backing down under the strong arm tactics of the PLA.


On 3 July 2020, Indian Prime Minister Modi visited his troops on the Chinese border. At an altitude where the lack of oxygen makes breathing a strenuous exercise for the ablest of men, 69 year old Modi rallied his troops with astonishing vigor - "Our country has never bowed down and will never bow down to any world power, and I am able to say this because of braves like you. The age of expansionism is over. This is the age of development. In the centuries gone by, it was expansionism which hurt humanity the most and sought to destroy it. Those who are driven by expansionism have always posed a danger to the world. History bears testimony that such forces have either been destroyed or been forced to turn back. It is due to this experience that the world is coming together against expansionist forces".

Throughout his address, Modi did not even consider China worthy to be mentioned by name, though his direct references were understood by all.

Hitting China where it hurts - Dismantling the Asian Giant's Ambitions for Economic Dominance and Technological Supremacy

As a leader, India's Modi has been described as a man who welcomes friends and allies with a warm bear hug. But, he is also known to be a man who never forgets an insult or an injury and delivers a payback with an uncanny perception of opportunity and timing. India's neighbor Pakistan has had a good taste of this through the military strikes India delivered to that nation in retaliation for the Pakistani military sponsored terrorist attacks on Indian soldiers at Uri and Pulwama in Indian Kashmir. During his 2 terms as India's Prime Minister, Modi has demonstrated tenacity and perseverance in his efforts to build a long term relationship with China by bridging the economies of 2 giant modern day nation states that were also two of the oldest civilizations in the history of this world. That sustained endeavor suffered a devastating blow after the June 15, Galwan valley massacre initiated by China's PLA.

On 29 June 2020, two weeks after the Galwan valley incident Prime Minister Modi followed up on his resolve to deliver his payback to the bully by banning 59 Chinese apps from the Indian market. As a country with over a billion people that constitutes one-sixth of the global population and is the fifth largest economy in the world, internet tech companies in China have been drooling over the possibility of getting their apps and other software installed on the phones of every Indian. The Chinse app TikTok was showing the way for others, in that very direction. But, those dreams crumbled overnight for China's would be tech unicorns and probable billionaires. TikTok has estimated a loss of $6 billion due to its sudden elimination from the Indian market. This action also deals a lethal blow to China's ambitions of developing into a technical giant in the global community.

Chinese construction and infrastructure companies are also being systematically weeded out of the Indian market, under the watchful eyes of Prime Minister Modi. A law has been drafted by the Indian government which will prevent any Chinese company from entering into joint ventures with their Indian counterparts from now on. To sum it up, investments of any kind from Chinese stakeholders are no longer welcome in India.


In ways that no nation has done so far, India is drawing out on the international whiteboard, a roadmap on how to hit back at a global bully with concrete actionable steps. This is being done at a time when all you have been hearing from the global audience is murmurs of disapproval (of the bully's actions), without the demonstrated courage or ability to collectively stand up and take corrective action.


The real question is... "When will the global community muster the courage to join in the process, that India has already started?". Without getting into the intricacies of global geopolitics, we can already hear the soft rumblings of a global backlash developing against China. This mutiny will gather a momentum of its own as more nations like India (with sizable economies and military might) come forward and demonstrate their willingness to stand up to the global bully.


About the Author

As an American, lived in South Asia and love South Asia as one of the most politically and culturally active sections of the globe. My dad's tenure in New Delhi as a journalist from the Washington Post, has provided me the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the Indian subcontinent and get to know its people and the nations it is made up of.

Unlike most American kids of my generation, I did not spend my teenage years in the US. Instead I backpacked with my journalist dad travelling the length and breadth of the South Asian subcontinent, as he covered the region for his daily and weekly dispatches to the Washington Post.

As a result, I came to know this melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and people like few in my generation back home can even dream to acquaint themselves of even if they joined the most prestigious of the think tanks in Washington DC.

What do I do for a living? Having worked with the Big 5 corporations, I currently do free lance technology consulting for corporations struggling to transform their technology of today into where they need it to be tomorrow.

I can be reached at

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1 Kommentar

uttam pandey
uttam pandey
07. Juli 2020

Your bullying analogy is echoed in today's article of one of the best foreign policy scholar of India C Raja Mohan- "If powerful nationalism is driving China to seek more territory from its neighbours and dominate the region, equally intense nationalist forces in Asia will react against the CCP’s assertive policies,"

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