• 20 June, 2024
Foreign Affairs, Geopolitics & National Security

Strike China and Save the World: Part 2 – Manufacturing Reality

Cdr Sandeep Dhawan (Retd) Sat, 06 Nov 2021   |  Reading Time: 7 minutes

Just imagine a video of Chinese authorities brutally assaulting and arresting Chinese citizens who have a credit rating below certain criteria, appearing on Sina Weibo. In no time this video would be viral on WeChat, DouBan, YouKu, and several other Chinese social media platforms. By the time the Chinese authorities would react, the damage has already been done. The video was a deep fake, inserted by the Indian agencies. India and many other countries have declared a non-kinetic war on China.

Most of the time when the word ‘war’ pops up in any conversation, everyone visualizes fighter planes buzzing past, guns blazing, missiles being fired, and soldiers penetrating enemy territory. However, this is a forever war, without a beginning or an end. It is called ‘asymmetric warfare’.

So what is asymmetric warfare? It is a war, without fighting a war. It is fought best when opposing forces are not even aware that they are involved in such a war. This war helps to control citizens’ thought processes, mold them, and at times alter them to one’s requirements.

The present era is called the ‘Information Age’ for nothing. Every aspect of this war is information dependent. That means anyone who controls information, controls the world. China understood that fact a long time ago. They also recognized that the internet and the devices connecting human beings with the internet would be key to information or disinformation. No wonder, today China is the biggest manufacturer of mobile phones, laptops, and routers in the world. Welcome to the era of asymmetric warfare.

Asymmetric Warfare

This warfare consists of nuclear, chemical, biological, economic, information operations, operational concepts, terrorism, etc. However, India should consider only

    • Psychological war
    • Disinformation and Propaganda
    • Economic War
    • Disruption of Chinese Operations
    • Technological war
    • Diplomatic War

Despite the fact, China has taken a lead in this sphere, India and other like-minded countries should initiate it immediately, if not already done. The first step in that direction would be to control the Chinese cognitive process. Cognitive psychology is the field of psychology that investigates people’s thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving.

The Chinese Chairman Mao once spoke about the Chinese people, “China’s 600 million people have two remarkable peculiarities; they are, first of all, poor, and secondly blank. That may seem like a bad thing, but it is really a good thing. Poor people want change, want to do things, want a revolution. A clean sheet of paper has no blotches, and so the newest and most beautiful words can be written on it.”  This indicates that Mao had understood the importance of controlling the cognitive process. The first asymmetric war China had fought was against its own people.

Where to Begin

To insulate the Chinese populace from these offensives from India and any other nation, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken measures. Today Chinese citizens read, write and think what CCP wants them to do. In my article I had explained in-depth the following concepts of ‘how China controls internet within China’ using the following measures:

  • Great Firewall of China
  • Great Cannon
  • Golden Shield

Courtesy: CitizenLab Canada

India and like-minded countries have to penetrate this security system to reach the Chinese citizens. In addition to that, Chinese diplomats, students, tourists, and businessmen abroad would be the right people to target and carry the message home. As Mao had said, a clean sheet has to be created to write beautiful things that we want them to think and perceive.

A collective psychological attack should be initiated to alter the cognitive thinking of CCP, People Liberation Army (PLA) and Chinese citizens using:

  • Perception manipulation
  • Altering historical memory
  • Influencing the thinking of elites and alter their ideology
  • Question national identity by exposing national heroes

The whole game would be played at a very large scale using every mean available in the manual of information warfare. Though Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang would be kept on boil, but as I always say target the strength of the Chinese system and Han supremacy. If the Chinese strengths are subdued, the weaker areas would just follow through.

Deeper Psychological Attack

India would need to attack the Chinese conscious and subconscious mind using all means. The specialists will have to understand the Chinese feelings, memories, speech, motivations, emotions, and needs using every means of technology at their disposal.

Externally PLA soldiers and diplomats should be targeted at physical level with the use of light waves, electromagnetic waves, and microwaves. This would cause them psychological damage, confusion, and hallucinations. While India is using these techniques against China, it must also safeguard its soldiers and diplomats against such attacks from China.

A technique I call ‘Slow Boiling’ is very useful in subconsciously altering cognitive thinking. For example if one puts a frog in hot water, the frog would jump out instantaneously and get away with just a few burns. On the contrary, if one puts a frog in cold water and puts that water on a very slow heat, the frog would boil to death without realizing.

This technique is to be used against adversary population by injecting completely new content in their social media or altering the existing narrative by subtly injecting own narrative here and there, keeping major part intact.

Readers may recollect many articles in Indian and international publications or ‘social media forwards’, that have been planted to change the narrative. These articles and messages had sole purpose of demoralizing Indians and creating doubts in their minds about country’s military or civilian leadership. Anti-CAA protests, farmers’ protests, Black Lives Matter (BLM), or storming of Capitol Hill have clear-cut signs of Chinese meddling.

China has also heavily invested in Indian vernacular media. They churn out huge anti-India propaganda which goes unnoticed. A large number of respectable journalists could also be on the Chinese payroll, making the Chinese task very easy. Time has come to pay back China and its vassal states in the same coin. However, while using all these techniques government of the day has to insulate Indian citizens from such attacks.

Manufacture Reality for Complete Chaos

Humans not only respond to the objective features of their circumstances but also to their own subjective understandings of those situations, even when these beliefs are factually incorrect. Other shortcomings include human beings’ willingness to believe information that is not true and a tendency to be as easily exploited by emotional appeals as demonstrated by fake news from across the world.

Despite such a hollow past, for many Chinese, the ‘century of humiliation’ started with the First Opium War (1840-1842) and lasted until 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was founded. This fake narrative and manipulated historical myth have to be busted. The Chinese populace has been manipulated by CCP in two ways. Firstly, they were fed this fake narrative that CCP ended the century of humiliation, and secondly how great and powerful China was before 1840. The fact is that China has been ruled by foreigners through out the last 1500 years. Liao, Jin, Xia, Yuan and Qing dynasties were non-Chinese and they decimated Chinese dynasties.

During the cultural revolution, Mao and his cronies destroyed whatever Chinese heritage existed in the country. China was left without any identity. Most of the iconic sites, barring the Great Wall and Forbidden City, are fake and have been recreated. Some have been created after the death of Mao and some during Xi Jinping’s reign. Since Chinese citizens want to connect with their heritage, they believe in the fake monuments and recreated history. Exposing these false narratives would be highly demoralizing for the Chinese populace.

Similarly, breaking the myth of Chinese historical figures and heroes would deal another blow to the Chinese esteem. Figures like Mao, Mulan, and Comrade Lei Feng should be exposed. Chinese people should also be made to realize that their forefathers have heavily borrowed from Indian scriptures like Ramayana. They have also borrowed Indian Gods and Goddesses to fulfill what was lacking in their culture. Chinese Goddess Jiuntian Xuanni is based on Indian Goddess Durga, Tian Shang Ti on Lord Indra, Goddess Mazu on Goddess Ganga, Tai Yang Xing Jun on Surya Deva, Mother Houtu on Dharti Maa, Gongong on Lord Varun, and Sun Wukong on Lord Hanuman. The list is endless to make the Chinese realize how hollow and fake their history has been.

In addition to fake history, current China is not free of social issues and they are ready to be exploited. Indian government along with other willing nations should make a concerted effort to create that reality or enhance the social issues. Machines using artificial intelligence algorithms can be taught to exploit these flaws. They are more effective than humans. They identify which content works and which does not on millions of people at high speed, repeatedly, until the targeted human beings react as desired.

All is Fair in War

The sole aim of Indian agencies should be complete mayhem in China. That can be achieved using disinformation and deep fakes. These strategies would require teamwork between adversary and important local players. Audio-visual technology should be explored to imitate the voice of the Chinese leaders and PLA Commanders to mislead the adversary’s decision-makers into wrong decisions. These techniques should also be used to discredit leaders and PLA commanders. Every Chinese citizen, be it businessman, student, diplomat, or tourist, stepping out of China should be an easy target for such campaigns.

Today China faces shortages of food, power, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, plummeting growth rate, environmental disasters, and irrational aggression in addition to millions of demonstrations against draconian policies and ruthless government officials. New realities can be weaved around these existing issues or altogether new realities can be created that resonate with Chinese dreams and desires.

Data is The New Oil

A very important component to fulfill all the strategies is ‘Data’. People have heard the term ‘data is the new oil’, number of times, but very few understand it’s importance. China producing cheap products was a double-edged sword. Firstly, it killed industries in most of the countries and secondly, it presented a treasure trove of buyers’ data to the Chinese authorities.

The Chinese authorities weaponized this data against the same people who were using the Chinese products. They knew their shopping and eating habits, thought process, worries, and concerns. Then came the mobile devices revolution. China flooded the markets with cheap handheld devices and Internet-of-Things (IoT). This dominance opened the new floodgates of data.

The Chinese government has also arm-twisted companies of international repute like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Bloomberg, and LinkedIn to hand over data for further exploitation. Most of these companies have left China for good, however, China still dominates the mobile devices segment. A worrisome fact is that eighty percent of mobile phones, routers, and laptops used in India are still made in China.

No Let-up

The dependence on Chinese technology is a real threat and this has to be reversed if government wants to insulate Indian forces and citizens from Chinese attacks. Governments from across the world have to bring about the changes before it is too late. The first step in that direction would be shunning the Chinese devices. It should be mandated that government agencies and government functionaries completely get rid of Chinese devices.

If at any time policymakers get paralyzed, since they might find these techniques too drastic or extreme, they have to remind themselves of ‘Prithvi Raj Chauhan Syndrome’. A very capable and brave King Prithvi Raj, defeated but pardoned Mahmud of Ghazni and thus changed the course of Indian history. Time has come to adopt the offensive policies of Lalitaditya Muktapida, the legendary Kashmiri king whose empire extended up to Central Asia. And if there is still some doubt left then they should remind themselves of, who was behind 5 million deaths the world over due to Covid-19, and the deaths of Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley.

There is nothing unfair in war, and the impact and ruthlessness of implementation of such policies should be double when the adversary is China.


A veteran of the Indian Navy, Cdr Dhawan served in the Navy from 1988 to 2009. He was a Maritime Reconnaissance Pilot and a Flying Instructor. He is a geopolitical analyst and writes for various online websites and organizations.


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Cdr Deepak Singh

Nov 17, 2021
A strategy you had hinted on earlier too. It is a very workable idea but as you have written, it will require more countries to join in and the requirements are too vast. I would like it to be done and see it work. A big but stops me from opining further. Just that we and major countries are still largely still dependent on China for certain very required supplies including important ingredients that China has a monopoly on. Just the basic chip for motor vehicles has broken the supply chain world over and has forced many to soften tone over China. One manufacturing break down in China and the world almost Stops. All major countries will have to start on this strategy now and continue even after the results start showing. It can work, so lets start. Your article has made me start thinking. Thanks for sharing. Waiting for your next.

Mishika Raj

Nov 10, 2021
Well researched article! Thanks for sharing 😊

Sukhjit singh

Nov 09, 2021
Very well analysed and presented. Time is of essence in this strategy, as they have a clear headstart and the is not yet ready to share resources because of nationalism.


Nov 09, 2021
A nice eyeopener article. But one needs to be very careful that the same strategy is not adopted on the Indian populace by China or the Govt. For that is a sure invite to a disaster for this country too.

Sanjay Rao

Nov 08, 2021
Ah , finally someone is writing and understanding the Chinese way of warfare and softening up the target before an attack. Their ways are different from the rest of the world that is into direct frontal attack

rahul gupta

Nov 08, 2021
Very well analyzed and presented. Conceptually, the strategy of playing mind game makes eminent sense- as one pillar of the broader strategy. Simultaneously we would need to address a few other important issues which will potentially arise from the Chinese retaliation - economic blockade by stopping supply of key inputs (presently 60 Bn per year, and growing), likely blocking of the information that you mentioned in part 2, escalation of proxy war thru our neighbors (most of them are not exactly in our orbit, and are also highly dependent on China), using their muscle with the developing countries to reduce our trade with these countries, hacking into our critical IT network ( in particular the vulnerable Power Grid) etc etc. Looking forward to the Part 3 of your article, which also includes the strategy on how to address these areas of our vulnerability.

Pankaj K Jha

Nov 08, 2021
Well conceived article, focusing on two key issues that would be differentiator in the current and near future warfare against China: 1. Asymmetric warfare 2. Strong Manufacturing While India in the current regime is trying to counter these two key issues, unfortunately some of our own main political parties appear to be sold lot. In the name of opposition, they even oppose issues of national importance and security. India is rightly working on getting the key world leaders onboard in tackling China’s propaganda and aggression. The recent developments in Afghanistan is a setback for india but I am sure our strong and proactive leadership would realign our strategies soon to counter it . Your article is a real, thought provoking and interesting. A well researched paper with important takeaways. 🥂

Sanjeev Mittal

Nov 07, 2021
An amazing correlation between old times great Wall of china to present firewall of china...Kudos to writers logical connecting narrative. .. the world is changing and is no more an era of bow arrow or improvised version of those trajectory weapons.. nicely explained how information technology is the new weapon...a great insight on how Chinese have borrowed our Hindu Gods and Goddesses.... Nice para on data is new oil and spillage of the oil can lead to disaster. . Another great article worth investing time to read.. 👍🇮🇳👍


Nov 07, 2021
Well thought and researched. Keep it up.


Nov 07, 2021
Sir, respectfully, I disagree with the notion that we should target the strength of the enemy in order to weaken it and that once the enemy’s strength is subdued, the weaker areas will fall by themselves. I agree that asymmetric warfare is and has always been an extremely powerful weapon of war since time immemorial. However, in the current scenario, this tool is potently effective only in democracies and open societies like India, US etc. where people are allowed to voice their opinions without fear of reprisals. When it comes to repressive regimes like China, public dissent is always brutally crushed by the state. Over the past many decades there have been thousands of protests and signs of rebellion in China and also the former Soviet Union but each and every time these activities have been ruthlessly put down by the state. For arguments sake, let’s say that we effectively penetrate all Chinese firewalls and censor mechanisms and manage to alter the mental psychology of the Chinese people. What then?? Even if the people rebel against the government and local authorities, sooner or later, they will be crushed. Tiananmen Square is an excellent example of how repressive regimes deal with rebellion. In my opinion, in order to subdue the enemy, we have to target its weaknesses. In such a case, the enemy will be forced to use its strengths to protect its weak points thus putting its strength on the defensive and also giving us a chance to effectively counter its strength and defeat it. In China’s case, its main weakness is its highly leveraged economy which is starting to collapse. We have to work on further weakening its economy. I agree with your suggestions about shunning Chinese technology and restricting our dependence on imports from China. That is definitely an excellent starting point. Another factor is that China, as part of their debt-trap strategy for attaining global dominance, has invested billions of dollars in a lot of semi-impoverished countries. We, along with QUAD and other allies have to step up support for such nations and encourage them to default on their financial and other agreements with China. This will severely reduce the flow of raw materials into China thus further aggravating its economic woes. At the same time, we should offer financial and other support to rebel groups such as the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) etc. so that they can mount attacks inside China. This will put China on the defensive and it will be too busy using its strength to solve all these headaches and that will give us an excellent opportunity to penetrate all Chinese defenses and implement our aggressive plans vis-à-vis China.

Cdr Deepak Singh

Nov 07, 2021
Sandeep a very well written article. I have only few comments that you discuss in the article. - Information within China is like brainwashing using the Communist propaganda ministry, only Communist country have such a wing. - Information received by us is also governed or some by foreign journalists who often get arrested. We actually don't know what is going on in China. All is our analysis based on where China can't hide. - Doubt we will have a Third World War, it will be destruction of mankind, with many countries armed with Nuclear Weapons. Think about India dropping a nuclear bomb in Pakistan and the wind is North Westerly. Hope my comments are worthy. Waiting for more of your articles. Atleast, you are working hard to keep us informed.

Samarth Dixit

Nov 07, 2021
Superb article and very well composed as always sir,take care :)


Nov 07, 2021
China has developed immense ill will, the world over, thereby becoming a victim of its own machinations....this saga will only snowball with time....eventually their mammoth investments abroad are likely to sour up and become a source of an economic implosion....this is likely to be the scenario in 3-4 years....the juggernaut has started rolling


Nov 07, 2021
You are amazing. Very insightful article. We have travelled a long way since the days of Prithviraj Chauhan and Nehru/Gandhi naiveties. There is still hope.


Nov 07, 2021
A well researched, unique and eye opening perspective on the topic.

Deovrat Pagay

Nov 07, 2021
For China, asymmetric warfare means attacking enemy’s weaknesses with own strength. They draw the thought from ‘Classical Strategy’ . Sun Tzu’s ‘fei duicheng’ was an important issue in China’s global strategy. Cyber and network attacks is one such weapon effectively used by China. The PLA has a concept called the ‘three warfares’ which include propaganda, psychological operations and ‘ lawfare’ to shape the public opinion globally. China views India as an adversary in its quest for regional hegemony and dominance in Asia. India needs to reframe its strategy in the light of increased Chinese belligerence.

Wendell Bruges

Nov 07, 2021
You amaze me every time with your incisive and in-depth analysis. I think Quad members should develop a joint strategy to stop this unopposed Chinese march. Looking forward to reading Part 3.

S Roy

Nov 07, 2021
Another great one tiger. We now need to be specific... Places that we can target, who can do, with what, and quantum. How to monitor the implementation of such activites and take active feedback. How can informal, non govt agencies contribute? How to build capacity to defend? All thoughts that came as I went through this fine article. Best wishes.

Anil k singh

Nov 07, 2021
A thought provoking article. Many aspects can be seen and read today. Many of it will be visible tomorrow. Grt job

Mariyam Kazi

Nov 07, 2021
Very well researched and extremely insightful. Definitely food for thought. Sharing it right away.

Harpal Singh

Nov 07, 2021
Excellent Article with good options to counter China 👍

Rajesh Kawatra

Nov 07, 2021
A thought provoking article. Over a few decades China has grown into the industrial hub of the world killing many industries in many Nations of the world and has indices countries having shallow & narrow thinking leaders with corrupt practices into debt trap of China. It has kept it's population isolated from World's influence with its own equivalent of social media Apps. It's an uphill task to isolate China but nevertheless dependence on China needs to be reduced. Small scale industries at all levels be encouraged financially by the Govts to enhance employment & shunning of Chinese cost attractive products. Big industries in the countries be discouraged from killing MSMEs/ SMEs. In the end, begining has to be made to discourage Chinese aggression and it's aggressive policies against other Nations of the world.


Nov 07, 2021
Dear Sandeep One more good one from you Great Stay safe


Nov 07, 2021
Great writing Sandeep Hope someone in the government takes a serious note of the article and implements it as required. Really good work. Best wishes Stay safe

Raman Gupta

Nov 07, 2021
Spot on. Offence is the best defence


Nov 06, 2021
... a very well researched article as always ... Offence has been the best defence ... Taking war in all forms and especially asymmetric W in modern times being played right in the enemy's backyard will always real huge dividends ... ... A good informative article for the well read n the uninitiated...


Nov 06, 2021
A Well researched and thought provoking article. You must start an YouTube channel for wider reach.

D'Nanda Panda

Nov 06, 2021
Many thanks, Commander and friend, for this intriguing installment in your current series. Do you think that the partner-nations in "The Quad" will actively assist in this effort?

Gaurav Chaturvedi

Nov 06, 2021
What a incisive and well researched article.Compliments to the author for not becoming too scientific to retain the interest of common masses.Hope the authorities who matter have gone thru this article.

Rakesh P

Nov 06, 2021
Wow. The techniques you discussed gave me goosebumps. You are so correct in your assessment that an evil entity cannot be felt with kid gloves.


Nov 06, 2021
Nice article all of us should start learning Chinese language to begin with, this may help in future.

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