China's war on India: Decoding Xi Jinping and his quest for power

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Palki SharmaUpdated: Jun 18, 2020, 07:33 AM IST

File Photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

To understand China's actions, it is important to understand the man leading it. Let's try decoding China President Xi Jinping.

The last major dispute between New Delhi and Beijing was in 2017 on the remote Doklam plateau near the borders of India, Bhutan and China. After a tense standoff, both sides agreed to an "expeditious disengagement" of troops, according to India's foreign ministry.


And now when the novel coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the entire planet, China began a strife on the LAC along India.

Twenty Indian Army personnel including a colonel were killed in a fierce clash with the Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff in the region.

There's one question that most of us have been asking -- why is China doing this now?

In the last six years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China President Xi Jinping have had 18 one-on-one meetings.

Most of them were described as cordial. 

Modi has visited China nine times -- five as the prime minister and four times as the chief minister of Gujarat.

After all of this engagement and personal investment, why is China being so abrasive?

Only Xi Jinping's ambition and insecurity can serve as the perfect explanation to this.

To understand China's actions, it is important to understand the man leading it. Let's try decoding China President Xi Jinping.


Xi Jinping's story is unique among world leaders. He's both an aristocrat and a poor man's poster boy. 

As a child, he saw the allure of power. His father was a top official -- a vice-premier -- in the government of Mao Zedong. 

As a teenager, he saw humiliation. His father had fallen out of favour, and Xi was singled out in school.

Then he saw the worst of the cultural revolution -- a rich, educated city boy was sent away to a village to be re-educated by peasants.

Xi jinping toiled for seven years.

He now calls himself the son of the yellow earth. It's a good political plank. But the journey hasn't been easy.

Xi Jinping's membership application to the Communist Party was rejected multiple times.

He has risen through the ranks, and seen the wrath of the system.

Now that he heads it, he doesn't want to share space. He wants to grab power -- both at home and outside.


Xi is described as the chairman of everything. He has installed himself as the commander in chief of the PLA.

In the 80s, he was the personal assistant to China's defence minister. And now he thinks he's an ace military strategist.

So he has put himslef -- in charge -- of everyday operations in case of external conflicts. 

He has abolished term limits -- and become president for life.

He has wiped out dissenters, and jailed potential rivals in the name of fighting corruption. 

The Chinese army too faced a purge, and that is when hundreds of top officials were removed.

Today, China's army, its media and its industry, serve just one purpose -- securing the president's power and furthering his ambitions. They serve him, not the Chinese people.


Xi has, time and again, encouraged nationalists, and revived old conflicts. He uses China's military as a tool to conduct its foreign policy.

He has opened multiple fronts -- Hong Kong, Taiwan, Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, South China Sea (Beijing claims 80 per cent of this. Five other countries stake claim -- Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and Taiwan).


He has launched a trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative to become a global leader.

Under Xi, the Chinese military has set up an overseas base.

The PLA has 67 military academies -- they train more than one thousand foreign officers every year.

Xi Jinping says international relations should be based on partnership, and not alliance. He says alliances are an outdated cold-war concept. He believes in having partners, and he always wants to be the senior partner.


In 2014, he said, "We should increase China's soft power, gives a good Chinese narrative."


It serves many purposes. It sends a message to smaller neighbours, and it sends a message to investors -- those businesses which are looking to leave China and move to india..

Beijing's border shenanigans will create instability and drive away potential investors.

This is critical for Xi as his political future depends on his country's economic stability -- which has been shaken by the novel coronavirus aka Wuhan virus.