“China can't afford a war with India at this stage” Chinese dissident Baoshong Guo

    28-Aug-2020
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Chinese political dissident Baoshong Guo says that the China's fragile economy would be thrown off-balance in case of a full-scale war with India, which is why President Xi is wary of escalating the situation to a full-scale military confrontation even as the two sides appear to have reached an impasse in the Ladakh border dispute
 
 
-Dhairya Maheshwari 

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Chinese dissident Baoshong Guo says President Xi
wants to consolidate power in the eyes of the Chinese people and his political rivals
 
Baoshong Guo, a Chinese political dissident who has been leading a life in exile since fleeing his home country in 1997, doesn't believe that President Xi Jinping would like to enter a full-scale military confrontation with India, especially now when it is being challenged globally by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan at the same time.
 
"If India initiates some sort of military action to try and restore the status quo ante, then New Delhi could rest assured of naval support from the other members of the Quad. The Communist Party wouldn't want to invite the wrath of the international community by initiating military action to reinforce its territorial claims," Bao says in an exclusive interview, formerly a labour activist in southern China's Shaanxi city before he fled to the US due to political persecution under the Communist Party of China.
 
Guo's remarks come in the backdrop of a news report claiming that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was not found to have tone down its military presence in the eastern Ladakh, despite commitments made during the call between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in the first week of July.
 
Almost 40,000 troops supported by heavy weaponry like air defence systems, armoured personnel carriers and long-range are still present at Fingers area, Hot Springs and Gogra, news agency Asian News International (ANI) reported on July 23, roughly a week after the corp-commander level talks between the two armies.
 
Guo reckons that the situation is moving towards a scenario where India might initiate military action to get the PLA to vacate its territory.
 
"President Xi understands that in case they get entangled in a flare-up on the land border with India, there could be another front opened by the navies of Australia, Japan, the US and India in the South China Sea. I don't believe that the Communist Party can afford to mess up the economy by involving the country in such an adventure," says Guo, imprisoned in 1994 after being found guilty of subversion. He was released from jail in 1997, following which he made his way to the US.
 
The CCP dissident, however, adds that America's decision to close down the Chinese consulate in Houston portends US' growing antagonism against China. "Symbolically, the decision to order the closure of the Houston consulate is a very strong message. It indicates downgrading of relations between the two countries," explains Guo, a regular commentator on Chinese politics, one of the few left in Mandarin in a tightly-controlled media ecosystem of mainland China under the Communist Party of China (CPC).
 
Guo's regular broadcasts are well-received by the Chinese diaspora community and some of his views have even found a way into China, inviting the wrath of the state media. State-backed Global Times has called out Guo for organising protests against Chinese government's policies in the US.
 
"China's economic reliance on the US, despite the ill-will between the two governments, can't be overstated," Guo explains. "A healthy economy," he adds, "is what legitimises the rule of the Communist Party."
 
"I can tell you that people are angry with the Communist Party. There are protests and the the rage is definitely there in sections of the public, especially in the southern provinces bordering Hong Kong. But the crackdown to such protests, carried out by the state machinery, is more brutal than ever," he laments. "Without a good economy that's already battered by an ongoing trade war and the coronavirus pandemic, even the Party won't be able to contain the protests," the activist warns.
 
Guo goes on to say that New Delhi's decision to ban 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, has hurt Beijing more than American sanctions. "India was understood to be a big market for TikTok, which could drive the company's growth. The sanctions, on the other hand, have till now targeted just a few individual entities and are more rhetoric than sweeping measures," he explains.
 
Guo also claims that even though the Chinese censors have tried hard to keep the dispute with India as a low-key affair by suppressing news about it in Chinese media, the clash at Galwan Valley on June 15 has found a way into the news cycle.
 
"The Chinese people are all praises for the Indian soldiers on social media. They fought bravely against the Chinese army”, says Guo.
 
(The author is a journalist in New Delhi. He is particularly keen on foreign affairs and politics. He tweets from @dhairyam14)