NEW DELHI, India—The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began its new year greetings to India with a propaganda video showing its troops at Galwan valley with a red flag from “Tiananmen Square.”
“China’s national flag rise[s] over Galwan Valley on the New Year Day of 2022,” wrote Shen Shiwei, a Chinese overseas stake analyst based in Beijing whose Twitter account is described as “Chinese state-affiliated media.”
“This national flag is very special since it once flew over Tiananmen Square in Beijing,” wrote Shen. The same video is shared from other Chinese state mouthpieces.
The symbolic red flag on the communist side of the Galwan valley was reciprocated with an Indian tri-color on the Indian side of the valley and this exchange began a year of political hyperactivity on both sides, albeit of different natures.
The CCP is readying for its 20th Party Congress somewhere in the fall but before that happens India will have witnessed multiple elections to its key national and state-level institutions including presidential elections, by-elections in its House of the People (Lok Sabha), Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and seven state elections that will significantly impact the next national elections in 2024.
The 14th round of military talks between the two countries ended without any positive outcomes on January 12, while 60,000 troops continue to be stationed on either side during the extremely harsh trans-Himalayan winters.
While all this is happening on the border, sources in the capital of New Delhi told The Epoch Times that the CCP has a multipronged strategy to make a bigger impact on the political landscape of India.
CCP aggression on the border in 2022, among other things, is aimed at discrediting India’s ruling party, the Bhartiya Janta Party, which has stood up to the CCP and adopted assertive policies to combat its aggression. Efforts have been made to support and fund parties and candidates favoring the CCP and using Indian media and social media platforms for its propaganda.
CCP vs BJP
Chandra Mishra, a Varanasi based political strategist who has worked with all major political parties of India across five states and with six Chief Ministers of India, told The Epoch Times over the phone that in the past three years there are developments in Indian politics vis-a-vis the “external impact on the Indian politics, specifically of China.”
During the cold war when the world was divided between two superpowers, the United States and the USSR, the latter played a significant role in Indian politics, and now as the cold war equations change, China wants to take over that role inside India, according to Mishra.
“China wants to project itself as a superpower,” said Mishra, adding that until China gains supremacy in its backyard, in South Asia, it can’t take over the world. This control can’t be achieved without gaining influence over India’s politics.
A New Delhi source with in-depth knowledge on the matter told The Epoch Times on condition of anonymity that the CCP is already meddling in the upcoming elections in India.
“The Chinese embassy funds anti-BJP candidates in parliamentary elections and they also fund some media to promote anti-BJP propaganda,” the source said.
Mishra said that “the kind of disruption, the kind of interference China is creating around India, all those things are deliberate.” China doesn’t want to invade India but plans to covertly influence its political and policy-making institutions for its long-term goals.
“China wants to discredit the power of the ruling class of India. Many things happening on the border, any kind of tensions on the border, will have a direct impact on domestic politics, on the voters, because the narrative of the ruling party is based on nationalism,” said Mishra.
The BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, became the world’s largest political party in 2015, overtaking the CCP in membership. Mishra said the party’s leadership is “very much aware of the conflict of interest with an aggressively expansionist CCP that wants to be the unchallenged superpower in the world.”
He described a serious ideological difference between the two political parties, saying China’s goal of “having monopolistic control over the largest market called India” doesn’t go well with the BJP that has a strong voter base among the small-time traders in India. After Galwan, when Modi government applied trade restrictions on China, Modi gave the slogan “Vocal for Local” to appease this community and support it during the pandemic-related economic meltdown.
China’s wish to control the Indian market also conflicts with Modi’s strong diplomatic clout.
Since the BJP gained an absolute majority in the last elections in the Indian parliament, it gained electoral power to take strong decisions that don’t gel with the CCP agenda.
Mishra defined the other conflict of interest as a “geopolitical advantage of India to provide a free base for the U.S. or any anti-China power in a situation of conflict,” as well as the “global image and ambition of Modi.”
This year Modi was voted for the third consecutive year as the world’s most popular leader with a 70 percent approval rating among 13 world leaders in the polls conducted by the Morning Consult Political Intelligence.
“The fans of Modi ji at home view him as someone deserving a Nobel Prize, like Obama,” said Mishra, adding that Modi’s visit to the United States “was like a film to the Indian audience, especially when the U.S. had [previously] declined him a Visa. Modi is the only Indian leader who gets so much global attention despite the strong Hindu image of his party. In this view, Chinese leadership sees a threat in Modi.”
Immediately after the Galwan conflict in June 2020, pro-Chinese handles with the help of a few “small-time politicians as well as Chinese bots,” spearheaded a “misinformation campaign” on social media to support the China narrative, according to the Law and Society Alliance, a New Delhi based think tank.
In its report, “Mapping Chinese Footprints and Influence Operations in India,” the think tank said Twitter hashtags like #ChinaComesModiRuns by pro-Chinese handles became one of the most trending hashtags with more than 40,000 tweets at the time.
Will Xi Attack?
There’s also a lot more happening on the India-China border that call for attention, say analysts. China’s new land border law became applicable on Jan. 1 and on Dec. 29, China gave standardized names for 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh, a state in India that China claims and that incidentally is also ruled by the BJP.
Frank Lehberger, a sinologist specializing in CCP politics and a senior fellow at the Indian think tank Usanas Foundation, told The Epoch Times that the insurgents in India’s northeast are supported by China, and any terrorist activities in that region build criticism and erode popular support for the Indian government.
However, despite all symbolic gestures of aggression on the border, Chinese leader Xi Jinping will not carry out any large-scale invasion against India or Taiwan in 2022 because in China’s current political atmosphere he’s vulnerable, Lehberger said.
“In 2022, Xi Jinping’s paramount concern is making it safely to and past the 20th Central Committee, so until December 2022 he will not engage in major military action anywhere outside China,” he said.
“Of Course, unforeseen ‘accidents’ can still happen, but Xi’s foremost goal is to make it alive to the Congress and become CCP boss for life, which is still not guaranteed.”
Lehberger also said that the Red flag at Galwan Valley from Tiananmen Square was “quasi-religious” because the Square with the adjacent Imperial Palace, where the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, is widely understood by ordinary Chinese as being the focal point, the CCP’s symbolic seat of power.
According to the ruling ideology, any particular red flag that has flown at this focal point is imbibed with some “inspirational powers” thought to arouse fervent feelings of loyalty and patriotism.
He said the red flag at Galwan is mostly a gesture by the CCP toward its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) due to leadership’s belief that its soldiers lack sufficient patriotic fervor. The incident is also used to create a public opinion and war perception in India.
Pointing at the annual training and mobilization order signed by Xi on Jan. 4 for the entire PLA, Lehberger said that unlike previous orders, the 2022 one is highly personalized, with Xi Jinping writing, “I command…”
This is unusual because the order launches training activities for the entire PLA and the CCP leadership is still supposed to be collective.
“So this order Nr. 1 in 2022 is a reflection of Xi’s increasingly dictatorial ambitions that even exhibit some non-communist and outright fascist traits,” he said adding that for the BJP and India to understand the CCP’s behavior, it needs to understand what’s happening inside the CCP.