(This was originally posted in The Print by Snehesh Alex Philip)
New Delhi: Backed by its “disruptive technology”, China thought it could compel India to yield to its demands through push and shove, but New Delhi stood firm and prevented change of status quo, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat said Thursday, stopping short of terming Beijing a bully. Gen. Rawat made the comments at the Raisina Dialogue 2021, where he referred to the border tensions with China
The former Indian Army chief didn’t specify the disruptive technology he was referring to, but he added that soon adversaries may get embroiled in conflicts in which one of the two warring nations could even be unaware of the conflict at hand. “Unconventional games of conflict employed by clever use of disruptive technology could actually paralyze the network of systems like banking, power grids, communication to name just a few,” he said.
“Therefore, nations which have developed this kind of technology feel that they will be able to impose their will on other nations by saying that if you don’t come to my terms, then I have other means to bring you into conflict with unconventional means and therefore… nations are trying to become assertive and this is what China attempted to say that it is my way or no other way,” he said.
Taking a more firm stand, Gen. Rawat said China feels it has arrived because of superior armed forces and technological advances. “They (China) have been able to create disruptive technology which can paralyze systems of the adversary and, therefore, they feel that just by doing a little bit of shove and push, they will be able to compel nations to give in to their demands. But I think India has stood firm on the northern borders and we have proven that we will not get pushed,” he said.
“And I think whatever we have been able to achieve, in standing firm, in preventing change of status quo, we have been able garner world support. International community has come to us say that there is an international rule-based order which every nation must follow. That is what we have been able to,” he said.
“They have tried to change the status quo by the use of disruptive technologies without using force. As of now, they have not used force. And they thought that India as a nation will succumb to the pressures that they are putting on us because of the technological advantage that they have,” he added. The defence chief’s remarks come in the background of a report by the New York Times in February this year, which said that the October 2020 massive power outage in Mumbai was caused by hackers linked to China.
The NYT report — based on a report by US cybersecurity firm Recorded Future — identified 12 critical infrastructure entities in India that could have been targeted, including 10 power sector organizations and two maritime sector organizations. Gen. Rawat was on a panel that discussed: “Future of Conflict: How will democracies respond”. The panel also featured Gen. Angus Campbell, Chief of Australian Defence Force, and Gen. Koji Yamazaki, Japanese Chief of Staff. Tim Cahill, senior vice-president of US aviation firm Lockheed Martin, was also present during the virtual event.
‘Countries want to reshape global order’
In a reference to China, Gen. Rawat said some countries are seeking to reshape the rules that govern the global order via geopolitics coupled with geo-economics.
“Some countries try and make their own rules… these lead to conflict situations and that is what we are witnessing on our northern borders,” Gen. Rawat said. Talking about the changing security scenario, he said the world is witnessing changes in geopolitics shaped by a nation-first approach. “Today, nations feel that we need to authoritatively pressurize other nations if they can and this is what is leading to a changed security situation. The world is becoming fragile on account of threats from hybridization of warfare,” he said.
“Nations feel they have arrived with better technology and therefore threaten other nations which do not have that kind of technology and seek technological advancement into conflict. And therefore they are trying to make more and more assertive,” he said. Briefly speaking about Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, Gen. Rawat termed it as a “state of art system” and rued that the US has offered a lower version of the F series — F-16 to — India.