China May Not Be Able To Contain Omicron And Why India Needs to be Concerned.
In November 2019, many people in the city of Wuhan in China were getting sick with a respiratory illness. While authorities knew this wasn’t normal and there were signs of a fast spreading disease, China hid this news from the outside world. This outbreak is now thought to have happened because of a lab leak at Wuhan Institute of Virology.
When China did reveal that Wuhan and all of Hubei province were in the grip of a novel epidemic, the world was already finding cases outside China’s borders. Chinese tourists took it to quaint villages of northern Italy and to New York City. Business people and sports players were falling sick as far as London and Tokyo. The WHO called this disease Covid-19 and declared it a pandemic by February 2020.
Soon, as our world was amidst a Covid-19 wave crippling countries, questions were being raised on why China didn’t let the world know before. Also, eyebrows were raised as China seemed to get back to normal. There were news reports of Chinese citizens having parties and celebrating. As the blame started falling on China, the country did two things.
China started blaming the US and some other countries, including India, for the origin of Covid-19. And it started amassing a huge number of troops near northern India. While western nations condemned and rebutted the former act immediately, they overlooked the latter hostile act as a bilateral dispute. China’s aggression happened exactly when India was getting into the pandemic’s grip.
The best strategic experts in India and elsewhere were of the opinion that India’s infrastructure development near the borders miffed China. Or that China’s hostile actions were in reaction to India’s dissolution of Article 370 in Kashmir. I strongly disagree with such explanations. And I believe China’s action against India was an insurance policy it took against any action on it by the US and the west.
The insurance continues and China has renewed its premium for 2022 with more troops, preparation, and propaganda. The world doesn’t seem to care as much as it should. Probably they don’t understand the intentions. Or they think it won’t affect them. But India itself seems not to understand the dragon’s devious plans. Strategic and military experts in India seem to think it is just a stalemate, given India’s huge military buildup matching China.
India, in my opinion, will pay costs for this insurance before China ends it and returns its troops home. The insurance policy China took is simple: If the west were to impose costs on China for the Covid-19 pandemic, China will impose back costs by going to a war with India. By doing so, the ruling CCP can using nationalism, mitigate most of the economic and political fallout such western sanctions and actions may have on China.
The west will suffer economically if a war breaks out between big powers like China and India. All the CCP needs to do, after starting a conflict, is to get its diplomats working the lines to Washington, London, and Brussels. To get the west to pressure India and make it accept a ceasefire Beijing offers. This is to end the war quickly after China makes surprise gains over small areas of Indian territory. The west will gladly do China’s bidding given how much it will cost them if the war prolongs.
The Chinese plan is to the use the threat of a prolonged, devastating war between enormous powers to ensure China is safe from western action. And if such sanctions and western action happen, then use conflict and threat of escalation to arm twist all parties to comply. CCP will suffer least political damage and in fact emerge victorious from such an act. There’s sure a Chinese gamble here. The bet is India will succumb to western pressure and not escalate or prolong the Chinese imposed conflict.
I believe the pandemic will force the CCP to gamble and take this bet this year with India. Omicron is highly infective and China’s “Zero Covid” policy is not sustainable for such a virus with a high R-naught. Combined with the winter Olympics, Chinese cities may suffer from outbreaks and surges of infection. The CCP can lock down cities for months, but that’s going to make the economy crawl. Or it has to face millions of infections and inevitable death toll that will follow.
The population of China will not be happy either way. What China let out of Wuhan has come back to bite. But they still have their insurance policy using India. And what better way to divert attention from economic misery and Covid failure for the CCP if not a foreign foe they are fighting to save their motherland? A conflict with India and propaganda videos will increase nationalism and they can direct anger of the people outside.
Hence, India needs to be very concerned about China not being able to contain Omicron. India has to prepare to fight back lethally and for long. The messaging must be clear to China and the world. Any unilateral effort to grab territory and imposition of conflict by the PLA will become a prolonged war that China and the world can’t afford. India should be ready to lose it all, but will push China back to where India is now, or worse. That must be the message to Beijing, loud and clear.