Notwithstanding the misadventure of 1962 that resulted in establishing both Asian giants against one another since then, China and India cannot be called traditional ‘enemies’ in the true sense of the word. Along with the escalation in border skirmishes, bilateral trade between India and China had grown manifold in the last two decades. Yet, the game of one-upmanship between these two countries can be stated in present-continuous tense and when looked through the lenses of nationalism, both are normally termed as ‘enemies’.
While India chose to evolve as the biggest democracy in the world, China preferred to become the biggest authoritarian state. In the veil of democracy, India tried to experiment with Socialism as communist China experimented with capitalism.
Though for any sovereign state, its borders are a non-negotiable issue, how well the country could contain the divisive and secessionist forces within displays its strength. In the recent past India established itself a ‘soft power’ and in the process it remained a soft power even in handling its internal matters. This is true, despite the criticism of authoritarian way of handling internal affairs. However, it is really funny to name communist thinkers as ‘Liberals’, who always create authoritarian states – ever since Lenin and Stalin established ‘Iron Curtain’ and committed genocides in the name of people’s rule.
Well, with its new imperialistic attitude (against the very communist doctrine) has forced China to ensure ‘peace’ in all of its territories, especially the border areas.
Faced with ever increasing ‘Islamic Terrorism’ through the predominantly Islamist province of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China has taken some measures to contain the spread of such anti-national activities. It is in the interests of India to study and adopt some of these practices, despite they be decried by the so called Indian liberal intellectuals.
First, there shall be some ‘will’ in the top most ruler of the country. Faced with threats from ISIS, Xi Jinping vowed to build a ‘Great Wall of Iron’ to prevent Islamic terror from entering into China, with Xinjiang at the centre of its plans. To implement his plans, he sent Chen Quanguo, who was credited with stifling the pro-independence voices in Tibet – to Xinjiang.
So, what did Chinese do in Xinjiang?
First, all residents were asked to handover their passports to the local police. Whoever wishes to travel abroad shall collect them from the local police station after making an application. Despite protests, the liberal Chinese government was in no mood to listen.
Then came the advisory to parents to desist from encouraging or forcing their children into religious activities. Well, China officially guarantees freedom to practice any religion, but minors are not supposed to participate in religious activities. Period. If parents feel they are unable to prevent their children from getting influenced by extremist forces, they can apply to send their children to special schools for rectification. I really like the liberal attitude in offering government sponsored ‘rectification’.
As the CPEC and OBOR initiatives are close to realization, Chinese government expect their citizens should appear normal. So, abnormal beards and wearing veils in public places are banned. Once in a while, communist party officials call citizens to assemble so that their attires and attitudes can be inspected. They do advise some to change their attires. Even adults would be sent for ‘rectification’ if they don’t follow the advises.
And there are rewards too. I mean, for those who report any abnormal attire or behaviour or religious practice.
Every week, flag raising ceremony is held where it is required the Muslim Uyghurs to denounce any type of extremism and pledge loyalty to the flag. No, they can’t say it is not allowed to respect their nation above god. At least no living person can claim that he said so to the communist officials.
Every street corner would have a police station (or a chowkie as we call here in India) to make people feel safe. People are encouraged to visit these police posts and have tea with their protectors. But, how police would know when there is a ‘situation’? All shop keepers shall install a ‘panic’ button and cameras including interiors of their shops with a direct video feed to police. I find this also improves the business of security system manufacturers. People may complain about violation of privacy, but life is more important than privacy. Isn’t it?
Smart Chinese understand it is highly difficult to prevent terrorist attacks, after all. So, they shall train people to handle terror attacks to save themselves and their property and their neighbours. So, three times a day when the siren brakes, shopkeepers rush out on to the streets wielding the wooden clubs issued to them by the government. They fight the invisible attackers. Perhaps, this is the only legacy that remained of ancient Chinese Kung-Fu.
To enhance the confidence of people, even air force was involved in anti-terror drills. And that involved not less than eighteen machines, with at least eight of them being combat helicopters. To train security forces, Chinese army even conducted anti-terror drills close to Russian borders at minus twenty degrees temperature.
In fact, Xi Jinping’s war on terror may be a practical way of executing a war on terror, unlike the one practiced in Pakistan, only for the sake of American funds.
Whether any Indian leader can have such a will to see extremism of all sorts decimated is a question. But, if one thinks to eliminate or even control extremism, perhaps they can take a leaf out of Chinese scriptures on handling terrorism. However, first the government shall ensure proper governance in the province where they need to tackle terror, especially a corruption free one. One point worth noting in Chinese case is how they deal with officials who were caught overstepping authority or misusing power and indulging in corruption. The justice is swift and just, but harsh in the eyes of liberals.
As such, some steps taken by China may be too harsh and can only be taken in an authoritarian regime.
Nevertheless, they provide an insight into the modus operandi of how to tackle domestic terrorism, and how to delink it from the religion. For sure, if India adopts such a system there would be a hue and cry from the liberals forgetting how many their ‘red soldiers’ killed in the name of ensuring social justice in Indian forests. Yet, the Chinese way is worth studying.