Chinese tech players might face-off by Ladakh linking to India aligning with the US
It is a weird phenomenon when two of Asia’s largest economies decide that within the midst of 1 of the worst pandemics the planet has ever seen, they need to boost the stakes during a decades-long border dispute. what’s really happening , one might ask. Is there a war brewing between India and China?
The skirmishes on the Ladakh border might suggest that long-standing territorial issues are at the core of the conflict. But there’s another possible explanation. A bigger conflict is brewing, almost eerily along the lines of the conflict between China and therefore the US. and therefore the dominance of worldwide technology platforms and networks is probably at the centre of it.
Various policy measures announced by the govt in recent months — all coinciding exactly with skirmishes on the Ladakh front — have specifically targeted Chinese-origin technology players. Suddenly, China seems to have lost its mantle because the master of the Indian technology sector’s destiny — as Chinese VC firms/strategic investors have lost favour. India seems to be pushing back hard against China.
One narrative that we’re hearing frequently is that India, under a stronger political leadership, has decided to require a tougher stance against China’s incursions, both at the border and on the economic front. But the question — why this tougher stance — remains unanswered.
Incidentally partly also explains the narrative above that One of the hypothesis says that India is demonstrating its commitment to and alignment with a broader US strategy against Chinese technology players. Earlier this year, the Donald Trump administration unrolled the Clean Network programme, “a comprehensive approach to guarding its citizens’ privacy and its companies’ most sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, like the Chinese Communist Party.”
This programme is more significant than it seems. it’s laying the seeds for a replacement quite global alliance led by the US. This new alliance is centred not around military bases or economic ideology but on ensuring that the emerging global infrastructure of 5G technology — networks, carriers, storage, apps and cables — is made “cleanly”, that is, without Chinese companies.
Over 30 countries and lots of global telcos have signed up for this alliance already. From India, Reliance Jio has been named by the US because the trusted partner for 5G networks, ensconcing India and Jio firmly within the US camp. Not surprisingly, many of the recent global investors in Reliance Jio are prominent private and public players from the US and its allies.
Why is that the 5G technology infrastructure so important? within the words of senior officials of the US State Department, “whoever builds a nation’s 5G networks gains the key thereto country’s most sensitive personal, commercial, and governmental data”. 5G networks will form the underlying infrastructure for everything from financial networks, telecommunications, transportation and energy networks, to key government services like defence and intelligence. So, if a 5G network fails or its security is compromised or its primary ownership or control lies with a far off entity, there would be significant ramifications for all parts of society. The loss of economic prowess which will come by ceding ownership of the new “roads and seaways that connect the world” are going to be significant in itself.
Now, note this: In response to India’s move to ban 118 Chinese apps within the interest of national security, privacy and data security, the Chinese spokesperson didn’t criticise India’s move the maximum amount as she hit back at the US by citing US programmes like Dirtbox, PRISM, and Irritant Horn, all of which consistent with the Chinese were aimed toward similar objectives because the ones the Chinese companies are accused of.
In doing so, the Chinese have wittingly or unwittingly admitted to 2 things: One, that a number of their technology players could be engaged in trying to try to what the Chinese are claiming the US has allegedly long done, and two, that China and therefore the US are engaged during this land-grab on the technology and 5G front, and India is placing itself within the US camp.
In a way, it doesn’t matter whether the Ladakh skirmishes are being caused by India firmly placing itself within the US camp, or the other way around. What’s important is that both are intricately linked. The Chinese spokesperson’s statement suggests that China also views tensions on the Ladakh border as a manifestation of a broader strategy to encircle and exclude China from this Global Technology Alliance.
But the Chinese probably see the larger picture. They definitely don’t want to escalate the tensions to anything resembling a war immediately with India or the other country that it’s disputes with. China knows that its political capital with the remainder of the planet is at very low levels. that might explain why they need not hit back that tough.
It must even be noted that while the military conflict and tensions on the Ladakh border are dominating headlines in India, that’s not the case in China. At an equivalent time, while the aggressive Indian stance might, secretly a minimum of, generate respect for India amongst Chinese policymakers, it might not be surprising if the Chinese also think creatively about the way to show India down before later.
China will presumably not let Ladakh escalate that far more now, and we’ll probably see a rapprochement within the coming days and weeks. But rest assured, the Chinese will attempt to open up another front to harm India, and therefore the board may include the technology front. Indian policymakers got to be ready.