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Dragon on Our Doorstep: Managing China Through Military Power- Review

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Title: Dragon on our doorsteps: Managing China through military power

Authors: Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab

Publication: ALEPH, New Delhi.


Pages: 458

Price: Rs. 799/-

This is a provocative book, meant for the decision makers—civilian as well as the military. It does not offer a solution to the Kashmir problem but points out at the new approach that is hard to digest for the political leadership.

“What we intend to do in this book is provide an overview of key aspects of our struggle with China, followed by an in-depth study of the many smaller components of these issues that deserve to be appraised in detail. The book is therefore divided into sections, which look at the macro issues and chapters within these sections go deep into problems that make up the key issues that India has to contend with. As we have made clear, the problem with Pakistan is inextricably linked to the China problem and we have studied that as well,” say the authors while closing the 29-page long introduction.

The theme of the book is woven around the China’s most ambitious project-One Belt One Road (OBOR) that is reviving the ancient Silk road in order to build a China-centric world. The OBOR project will be a vast network of sea and land routes across dozens of countries where China is expected to spend USD 1 Trillion on railway lines, roads, ports and other infrastructure. India distanced from the OBOR Summit that was held in Beijing on May 14 & 15 over sovereignty issues over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The OBOR Summit was attended by 29 countries but a list of attendees announced by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi included only one leader from the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

The authors have argued that India should join CPEC in order to resolve the Kashmir issue and later put pressure on China to resolve Tibet issue as well. This will not only facilitate resolution of border row with China but would also ensure peace on Indo-Pak border. Lobsang Sangay, Prime Minister of Tibetan government in exile observed that Dragon On Our Doorstep underlines the importance and possibility of an honourable resolution of the Tibet issue.

While reviewing the Kargil war, the author’s quote, Parvez Musharraf—“As few as five (Northern Light Infantry) battalions (6,000 men), in support of freedom fighters groups, were able to compel the Indian artillery coming from strike formations meant for operations in southern plains. The Indians were forced to mobilise their entire national resources, including their air force.” The authors also conclude the discussion on Kargil war, the book concludes, “The two core lessons from Kargil conflict for India and its armed forces (especially the army) remain unlearnt. One, as the Pakistan Army—to spring (military) surprises, the Indian military should be prepared at all times to fight and win a conventional ware. At the political level, this implies an understanding of military power, including nuclear power, and how wars will be fought between adversaries holding military lines. At the military level, the need is for adequate war wastage reserves, training, mindset and capability for joint operations in an intense all-out war.” This is accurate and clinical criticism as General V. P. Malik, former Indian Army Chief at the times of Kargil conflict has appreciated the ‘unique approach’ of this book to manage relations with China.

Pravin Sawhney has been the editor of FORCE (A magazine on national security and defence) since 2003. He has two books to his credit-The Defence Makeover: 10 Myths That Shape India’s Image and Operation Parakram: The War Unfinished. He has been a visiting fellow at Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, United Kingdom. Ghazala Wahab is executive editor, FORCE.

Ancient Silk Road that connected China with Europe passed through the Pamir Mountain Range and Gilgit and entered the Gandhara (Peshawar). Peshawar was a junction where ancient silk road connected with Grant Trunk Road that covers the Northern plains—Sindhu and Ganga river systems. The ancient Silk Road not only traded the goods and merchandises but also carried the ideas and thoughts. Buddhism travelled to Central Asia, China and Japan from this ancient silk route. In the geopolitics of OBOR, India is indispensable.