While inaugurating a slew of border infrastructure projects, defence minister Rajnath Singh has said that the possibility of any kind of conflict can’t be ruled out in the current uncertain environment. Singh was referring to the ongoing LAC standoff with China that began last year. He is right in his assessment that India should be prepared for any conflict scenario because the political situation in China will remain sensitive till the 20th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress next. And given the internal machinations of the CCP with President Xi Jinping trying to secure a historic third term, more adverse events at the India-China border cannot be ruled out.
While shoring up the country’s defence capabilities and border infrastructure is vital, meeting the China challenge – it is actually the China-Pakistan challenge given Islamabad’s belligerence too — also requires an all-of-government-and-society approach. And for this it is necessary to ensure that politics doesn’t become a national security liability. With a series of big elections slated for next year, there is a risk that political and social polarisation may return to the fore. This will be dangerous for the country and allow its enemies to fish in troubled waters.
After all, the Chinese threat is an unprecedented multidimensional challenge. And Beijing can adopt a wide array of tools including conventional military, cutting-edge technology and misinformation campaigns to achieve its own political and strategic aims. Therefore, it is imperative that Indian society remains united at this sensitive point. Allowing political polarisation to strain the fabric of social cohesion will only help the enemy. Thus, all political parties must be measured in their political campaigns. The China-Pakistan axis will continue to loom in 2022.
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