On Point: 21st-Century Chinese "Cabbage" Warfare: Fake Maps And Water Cannon Supporting Military Threat

by Austin Bay
April 3, 2024

On April 2, India bluntly rejected Communist China's latest sly ploy to claim Indian territory in the Himalayas.

The Chinese gambit: On March 30, Beijing issued a statement renaming 30 places in India's northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state. According to India Today, the locations included "two mountains, four rivers, one lake, one mountain pass (and) 11 residential areas."

Reuters reported Beijing declared it was merely "standardizing" the localities' names "in accordance with the relevant regulations on place name management of the State Council."

That would be the State Council of the People's Republic of China, the arm of the Chinese Communist Party that directly oversees China's provincial governments.

The State Council's stuffy bureaucratese failed to disguise its belligerent land grab. A senior official in India's Ministry of External Affairs (foreign ministry) accused China of "manufacturing" claims to sovereign Indian territory China illegally occupies. Another dismissed the name game as "absurd."

Absurd? China's dictatorship bets it gains something from repetitious hoaxes. In 2017, Beijing renamed six locations in Arunachal Pradesh, another 15 in 2021, and 11 more in 2023. The CCP says the region is part of South Tibet, China's Zangnan province.

Repetition is the hallmark of propaganda. Repeat the lie ad infinitum, alter maps, act boldly, and suddenly people accept it.

External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said, "If today I change the name of your house, will it become mine? Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always be a state of India. Changing names does not have an effect."

He added: "Our army is deployed at the Line of Actual Control ..."

In 1950, Communist China invaded Tibet. The communists said Tibet belonged to China because at one time imperial China controlled Tibet.

Seizing Tibet, however, soured Indian and Chinese political relations and led to the 1962 Sino-Indian War, which China started and won.

That war is not officially over. An iffy, mountainous 3,500-kilometer ceasefire line, the Line of Actual Control, separates the two nuclear powers. In 2020, the Chinese and Indian armies clashed. Blood spilled.

Beijing thinks the name game is a valuable weapon in its frozen war with India. Repetitive falsehood creates a media narrative promoting Chinese claims, which Beijing's diplomats cite at the United Nations.

Beijing employs a famous fake map in its war to seize the South China Sea and Taiwan, the nine-dash line map.

China's 2012 nine-dash line map is a cartographic crime Beijing uses to claim 85% of the SCS's 2.2 million square miles. The nine-dash line encroaches on territory belonging to the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. In 2016, the Hague's arbitration tribunal supported the Filipino accusation that China had stolen Filipino territory and sea resources. The tribunal relied heavily on the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China signed.

UNCLOS codified the geophysical conditions and legal precedents establishing sovereign control of territorial waters and sovereign rights in maritime exclusive economic zones. It is an example of practical, peace-promoting diplomacy.

The tribunal ruled Beijing had illegally seized islets in the Spratly archipelago, constructed artificial islands on reefs inside long-recognized Filipino territory and conducted illegal fishing operations.

Lawless Beijing ignored the verdict -- and still does.

In 2023, Beijing added a very dangerous 10th dash. Dash-10 scars the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan -- meaning Taiwan is mainland Chinese territory.

Day after day, Chinese aircraft probe Taiwan's airspace. On the Filipino front in spring 2024: Chinese troops occupy islets in Filipino territory as Chinese coast guard ships turn powerful water cannon on Filipino supply vessels.

The so-called cabbage strategy guides Beijing's gambits on all fronts. In May 2013, a Chinese general boasted China would eventually secure its South China Sea claims by wrapping them with coast guard ships, construction barges, fishing boats and military garrisons akin to protective cabbage leaves. Fake maps forward the strategy.

Read Austin Bay's Latest Book

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


On Point Archives:

On Point Archives: Current 2023  2022  2021  2020  2019  2018  2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close