Lack of allies, funds and resources: why China cannot afford a War right now

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi, India Published: Jun 18, 2020, 10:31 PM(IST)

In absence of any border treaty between independent India and China and non-demarcated LAC, the standoffs continue unabated (representative image). Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Another major reason China cannot afford to go to war with India right now is its lack of allies presently, excluding the debt-ridden Pakistan, or humble Nepal.

The worst two mistakes a military can make are to send unarmed troops to the border, and start a war when you cannot afford one.

So, can china afford an all-out war with India? The answer would be 'no'.

The major reason being that military deployment is a big challenge for China right now as it is already engaged in one too many fronts.

Another reason would be that the country is already fighting its internal war, and China cannot afford to fire right now as there is already too much global heat against it.

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Military deployment

What a country needs during a war is to quickly round up its forces at the frontline, and this is the last thing China can do right now.

China is fighting fires at several fronts as we speak. Its ground forces,  its navy, its war planes are all engaged.

On one hand, Chinese fighter jets are busy intruding into Taiwan's airspace, fighting a proxy war of unification.

On the other hand,China also has its ships at the South China sea, trying to fortify its claim over the water and its islands. In the South China sea alone, Beijing is currently engaged with six countries -- Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is creating artificial islands and carrying out exercises here.

Not just this, China is also in bad water with Japan right now, as Beijing's ships recently entered the Japanese water -- making Japan the seventh country to be at crossroads with China at the waters alone.

Then there is Hong Kong, and its ongoing pro-democracy movement. Striking a war with India right now will mean compromising on its surveillance in Hong Kong. The last thing Beijing wants is an uprising there.

Internal conflicts

China already has its plates full at home. There are one too many theatres of conflict.

China is still fighting to legitimise its claims on Tibet. It is also advocating for reunification of outer Mongolia. In addition to this, Chinese troops are engaged in the prosecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

And as we speak, they are fighting the second wave of coronavirus in Beijing.

Can China leave all these fronts and move to Sino-India border?

Budgetary issues

Let's say, hypothetically, the Chinese troops do abandon these posts and head to Ladakh, the question that arises then is that will the Chinese government be able to fund a war right now?

China's GDP stood at 20.65 trillion Yuan (2.91 trillion dollars) in the first quarter of 2020. Their GDP was down 6.9 per cent year-on-year.

It is not just the GDP that has observed a decline; China's relations with other countries, too, have observed a decline as industries are moving out of China.

Its manufacturing has slipped, and so has demand. There is a 8.5 per cent decline in imports.

The coronavirus has hammered the Chinese economy, and as a result, people are out of jobs and struggling to make ends meet.

The last thing China needs right now is a war. Too bad that Beijing, however, is already fighting one.

Trade war

China is in trade war with the United States. Although, it is economically at war with Australia too.

According to reports, the trade war with US cost China 35 billion dollars in the first half of 2019 alone. Among the hardest-hit sectors were computers and office machinery.

Fighting India would mean losing out on Indian markets, and losing over 74.72 billion dollars from exports alone.

Another major reason China cannot afford to go to war with India right now is its lack of allies presently, excluding the debt-ridden Pakistan, or humble Nepal.

India, on the other hand, has the support of the world's leading powers -- diplomatically and militarily.

If China fires a shot at Ladakh, it will be abushed from all fronts and its economy will tank.

China faces the danger of being diplomatically isolated, and there is a chance the Chinese leadership will not survive this blow.

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