- China is engaged in multi-generational warfare, with far-reaching implications for India.
- It has employed a combination of tactics, including ideological infiltration, media influence, and support for Indian political counterparts, to weaken India internally.
- It has made deep inroads into India’s media, entertainment industry, technology sector, and business ecosystems, with the goal of undermining India’s growth and strengthening its own influence.
- India needs to dial up its vigilance against China’s threat to its long-term interests.
Battles can last for days or months; wars can extend for months or even years. Warfare, on the other hand, is an enduring phenomenon characterized by the continuous evolution of conflict and engagement across varied landscapes.
Nothing exemplifies modern warfare better than China’s actions on the world stage.
In the aftermath of World War II, we witnessed the emergence of a new world order. In several modern nation-states, socialist and communist ideologies were gaining ground. Their success was driven, in the main, by their superior succession methodology compared to a decrepit imperialist system helmed by mediocre rulers.
Communism, in particular, had a well-structured form of succession planning with multi-level organizational structures that facilitated the transfer of ideas and organizational power from one generation to the next. However, for all that, communism, by design, is a destroyer of societies, not a builder. It is constantly in conflict with all other forms of governance. Its ideological goal is total control through revolution.
It is through this vicious lens that China views India as its biggest geopolitical competitor that it must bring down somehow. 
Mission: World Dominance
Communism claims to espouse the vision of an egalitarian society, an idea that is quite appealing as an alternative to oppressive imperialism, especially to impressionable young minds. However, as noted earlier, its reality is very different.
Historically, colonial regimes derived economic benefits from such practices as slavery, trade, and resource extraction. However, the post-modern world rejects slavery, leaving resource extraction and trade as the primary means of economic gain for the dominant powers.
Communism views total control over people as a way to control resources and trade. For a good part of the twentieth century, Soviet Russia worked diligently for global domination of their version of communism, hoping that China and India would follow in its footsteps. As communists consolidated power in mainland China, Russia increasingly shifted its focus to India, exerting significant influence on its socio-political and academic ecosystems.
After recovering from the civil war in 1949, China, under Mao Zedong’s leadership, adopted an aggressive stance towards its neighbors. As the leading edge of this strategy, they forced the Dalai Lama into exile, leading to the departure of around 80,000 Tibetans in 1959. As power consolidated under Mao Zedong, China had three clear objectives: the containment of Tibetans, a strategic interest in the Silk Road for trade, and the annexation of resource-rich territories in neighboring nations. India formed an important part of that strategy.
As part of their strategy, China actively pursued a multi-dimensional approach to building an indigenous collaboration network with like-minded Communist parties in India and deploying Chinese spies working with friendly assets within India. Meanwhile, the Indian government, led by its bumbling leader Nehru, was busy promoting the ideology of non-violence and non-alignment.
A rude awakening for India came in 1962 when China launched its first attack on Indian territory. A greater shock came from the Communist Party of India, which supported the enemy in the war against their own nation. Even the blood donation efforts for Indian soldiers were labeled as anti-party activities by the CPI. 
A greater shock came from the Communist Party of India, which supported the enemy in the war against their own nation. Even the blood donation efforts for Indian soldiers were labeled as anti-party activities by the CPI
After the Sino-India War in 1962, the Chinese realized that it wouldn’t be easy to gain additional Indian territory through conventional first- or second-generation warfare. The Himalayan terrain posed a logistical challenge for third-generation warfare. So, after years of careful planning, the Chinese adopted a fourth-generation warfare strategy. This involved weakening India from within by supporting ideologically friendly entities within India in political and academic spheres.
It’s important to note that while the impacts of earlier generations of warfare were fairly limited, fourth-generation warfare was characterized by its long-term, decentralized, and stealthy nature.
While some may think the Communist parties in India are engaged in electoral politics, they primarily serve as global Communist franchisees working on behalf of the two major global Communist powers, Russia and China. With a vote share that never exceeded 7%, The Communists never had a chance to play a dominant role in India’s governance. However, However, China valued its relationship with them because they represented the Communist Party of China’s interest in India.
Despite being a mere noise-maker in Indian politics, the Communist parties in India have successfully managed to pursue a three-pronged approach:
- At the national level – Influence governance behavior to restrict reforms and slow down the nation’s growth.
- At the regional level – Disrupt successful industries to create significant delays in industrial production, prompting supply chains to shift to other manufacturing hubs, with China being the obvious choice.
- At the geopolitical level – Leveraging Naxals to obstruct trade routes to prevent supply chain formations, thereby affecting growing industries.
In the late 1960s, coinciding with the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent widespread adoption of containerization in the shipping industry, the use of shipping containers increased from 50% to nearly 90% today. , India, due to its strategic geographical location, was positioned as the gateway for supply chains linking Southeast and Far East Asia. Recognizing the economic significance of this, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) strategically supported communist movements, placing them at crucial locations in India and supplying them with arms. These groups effectively obstructed India’s access to this global trade route, which stretches from the Suez Canal to Indian port hubs and enables access to the vast global market.
If one examines the Naxalite-affected districts across five states, namely Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal, one can see a clear attempt to prevent the creation of an east-west supply corridor that would link the ports of Western Indian states like Gujarat with the eastern and northeastern regions.
China Grows into Manufacturing Powerhouse with Stolen American IP
During this time, India was gradually expanding its manufacturing sector, experiencing peak growth in the 1980s, which eventually led to economic reforms in 1991. Meanwhile, China was yet to see meaningful growth in that direction. It was during this period that Chinese students began to enroll in US universities in large numbers, a trend that gained momentum in the new millennium. 
As Chinese students increasingly entered US universities in the 1990s, they were effectively playing a dual role as students as well as Chinese agents facilitating an intellectual theft of the century. They leveraged American knowledge and innovation to help China grow as a low-cost manufacturing hub while building their versions of high-quality technology products. 
There have been at least seven prominent cases of intellectual property theft in American corporations involving the Chinese. Many more instances likely went unreported, resulting in countless lost opportunities over the years. Not surprisingly, there is a striking correlation between the growth of American debt and Chinese economic expansion.  
In contrast, Indian Americans pursued their American dream and actively contributed to the growth of their newfound land of opportunity. They fostered collaboration with technology, driving growth through both onshore presence and offshore teams. 
As noted earlier, India has been in China’s crosshair for a long time as a direct geopolitical competitor in manufacturing and trade routes. Their initial approach to contain India was through supporting political counterparts. However, starting in 2000, they shifted their approach to finance ideological influencers within India as part of their fifth-generation warfare strategy. This strategy encompasses a battle of narratives, especially in the context of the IT revolution, which enables the unrestricted exchange of ideas across borders.
Riding on the success of their US model, especially after the Gulf War in the 1990s, the Chinese took audacious steps on this front. They actually tweaked their military doctrine, replacing the term “high technologies” with “informationalization.”  Information became a powerful tool for shaping narratives. They continued to pursue their strategy of gaining control over people, harnessing the beneficiaries and influencers of the IT revolution. As a result, a few clear narrative influencers emerged who were selected by the Chinese to drive their agenda.
Starting in 2000, China shifted its approach to finance ideological influencers within India as part of its fifth-generation warfare strategy, encompassing a battle of narratives, especially in the context of the IT revolution, which enables the unrestricted exchange of ideas across borders.
The Communists have held a strong presence in the media landscape from the outset. This is evident in the deep influence of Marx’s concept of historical materialism, which has been instrumental in developing frameworks that support Marxist narratives and the broader objectives of communism in countries like the US, Germany, and India. Early historians like BN Dutta DD Kosambi embraced Marxist historiography, and RS Sharma and the likes of Irfan Habib and Romila Thapar continued this tradition.
With this early dominance in the print space, Marxists naturally expanded into private news channels riding on the wave of the satellite TV revolution of the 1990s. Adapting to the global news media model, they leveraged their position as advocates of freedom of expression, consistently presenting themselves as champions of free speech in the prevailing narrative and speaking “truth to power” when, in reality, they were parroting the Chinese narrative.
As the media evolved on the back of new advertising formats and revenue streams, their hunger for growth led to an increase in questionable practices. These ranged from publishing advertorials for businesses to running image-building campaigns for politicians, celebrities, and corporations . This phenomenon peaked in 2010, following general elections, with widespread complaints of paid news. The trend continued unabated as the Election Commission of India identified 1400 cases of paid news between 2009 and 2013.
Sensing an opportunity, China strategically positioned its influence in the Indian media, particularly as it launched its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. By 2016, China was actively training hundreds of journalists every month to present China’s narrative more effectively to the world. This involved offering monthly stipends of up to INR 50,000 (USD 600), sponsoring trips to China, and much more. 
China’s influence became evident as the media spewed increasingly pro-China content. However, it became odiously conspicuous when they began to target the Indian industry in general and the Adani Group in particular (further details in the subsequent section). In July 2021, a freelance journalist, Rajiv Sharma, was arrested for sharing sensitive information with Chinese intelligence officers.  This case is reminiscent of a 2018 incident when a Chinese national named Charlie Peng was arrested for money laundering.  Another case occurred in December 2022 when a woman was arrested for spying on the Dalai Lama. 
In 2014, the BJP government introduced stricter regulations for institutions such as NGOs, where left-leaning individuals had been operating with substantial funding and little oversight. The new regulations focused on transparency and accountability, effectively eliminating opportunities for misuse of funds and inefficient operations. Numerous NGOs ceased to exist as a result of these regulations. 
It was during this period that Indian movies began to be released in overseas markets, leading to a massive surge in revenues. Starting in 2009 with the release of Rajkumar Hirani’s “3 Idiots,” which earned around $3.2 million, the revenues from overseas releases shot up to $7.5 billion in 2012 and nearly doubled to $15 billion by 2021. While there has always been an overseas market for Bollywood movies, it was remarkable to observe a massive increase in revenue after 2016, especially from China. What’s even more striking is that two movies by Aamir Khan, “Dangal” and “Secret Superstar,” generated revenues in China that were 5 to 10 times higher than what they earned in India  with no practical way to validate the sources of these earnings.
What is truly concerning is that this unregulated flow of these funds from overseas provides an opportunity for the disruptive NGO networks to channel money to Naxal groups. In fact, there is a well-known ideological nexus between Indian academia, the entertainment industry (collectively representing the so-called Urban Naxalites), and the Naxalites of the gun-carrying variety, as shown in Vivek Agnihotri’s movie “Buddha in a Traffic Jam.” 
The smartphone revolution introduced a new dimension for exchanging ideas through technology. China, known for its early adoption of hardware and software technologies, harnessed these tools to advance its agenda. Not so coincidentally, it has also developed a notorious reputation for hacking, ranking at the top of internet attack charts. 
While traditional technology is still relevant, China is engaged in a race to dominate in the artificial intelligence (AI) arena. They have already implemented large-scale public surveillance systems across China, using AI technologies to monitor its citizens. 
While the rest of the world debates the ethical use of AI, China has already deployed this technology as part of its ideological warfare. It’s not a question of if but when they will employ the same AI capabilities against their adversaries, with India being a prominent target.
As previously mentioned, China has consistently pursued its goal of achieving economic success at the expense of India. One prong of their strategy is to hinder India’s economic progress through internal strife. In my lifetime, I have witnessed this strategy in action – not once, but twice.
In the late 1980s, India’s largest exporter of textiles faced mass union strikes in Mumbai, weakening the sector due to its unreliability and inconsistent supply. As a result, the industrialists decided to move their plants to the special zones known as MIDCs (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation).
In another instance, my father’s workplace, a spinning unit, was doing well, with about 3,400 employees at its peak. But when the workers started protesting and going on strikes because of union activities, the company went downhill fast and went out of business in just a few years.
The usual communist strategy pits the workers against business owners, and this idea is often portrayed in movies where business owners are portrayed as the bad guys. In recent times, communists have openly advocated for measures that slow down Indian industries, with the explicit aim of disrupting their growth and, in turn, facilitating Chinese takeover of supply chains.
From the Medha Patkar-led “Narmada Bachao” campaign to the UPA government’s opposition to the nuclear deal with the US, communist groups are constantly looking for opportunities to impede India’s economic growth as a whole as well as for specific industries.
In a more recent example, the Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, was thrown into turmoil by worker protests in 2019. China was suspected to be behind the worker protests since Sterlite operations would have significantly affected China’s copper exports to India, transforming India from an importer to an exporter. 
On the global scene, China used its “pearl necklace” strategy to encircle India while pursuing its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI passed through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), considered Indian territory held illegally by Pakistan. Coincidentally, Adani Ports, India’s largest and the world’s third-largest port company, has been acquiring and constructing new strategic ports positioned to challenge China’s “pearl necklace” strategy along the BRI route. This effectively positions Adani Ports as India’s response to the BRI initiative. .
It is, therefore, not surprising that there is a Chinese connection to the recent Hindenburg attack on the Adani group, as revealed in the OCCRP report by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). 
Another crucial area where the Chinese are spreading their influence is the Indian startup ecosystem. India, much like China, has been undergoing a startup revolution and making steady progress. However, it may come as a surprise that China has been investing heavily in Indian startups, with investments reaching a three-year high at $14.13 billion in 2022.  This includes companies such as Ola, Zomato, Swiggy, Oyo, Paytm, MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, Flipkart, and more.  While business investments are generally welcomed, Chinese interest in these industries must be viewed with suspicion. Not only do these companies generate huge profits, but they can also act as conduits for the transfer of valuable data about the Indian market.
Learnings and Conclusion
China’s influence, like the octopus’ tentacles, spreads across many segments of Indian society. Leveraging multiple channels and employing subtle methods, China keeps its fingers on India’s pulse while driving its narrative through individuals and institutions it has infiltrated or developed.
It is incumbent on every Indian citizen to be aware of these activities and guard the nation’s interests. Governments at all levels need to closely monitor suspicious NGOs and their financial sources. While the China-friendly academia cannot be wished away overnight, vigilant oversight can help prevent potential issues.
Most importantly, young minds must be educated and sensitized against the pitfalls of seemingly attractive communist ideals. Among the vast array of educational material on the evils of communismIn the Indian context, Dr. Rajiv Mishra’s “Vishaila Vampanth” (Poisonous Communism) is highly recommended, especially for younger readers. This book examines how communist ideas, literature, and propaganda can significantly influence and shape the mind, particularly of youth, and how communism has evolved over the years.
Ultimately, knowledge is power, or as the Sanskrit adage suggests, “Tamso ma Jyotirgamaya” – Seek the light of knowledge and shed the darkness of ignorance.
 Chinese Intelligence: From a Party Outfit to Cyber Warriors – Ajit Doval https://www.vifindia.org/sites/default/files/chinese-intelligence-from-a-party-outfit-to-cyber-warriors.pdf
 Donating blood to Indian jawans was anti-party for CPI https://www.oneindia.com/india/1962-when-cpi-said-donating-blood-to-jawans-was-anti-party-activity-2464785.html
 Electoral history of the communist party in India https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_history_of_the_Communist_Party_of_India_(Marxist)
 International trade through shipping https://www.ics-shipping.org/shipping-fact/shipping-and-world-trade-world-seaborne-trade/
 Containerization history https://www.foodcircle.com/magazine/history-of-the-shipping-container
 IMF working paper – Arvind Pangariya 2004 – https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2004/wp0443.pdf
 Chinese students in America – https://www.economist.com/sites/default/files/images/print-edition/20200104_FBC821.png
 Industrial espionage: How China sneaks out America’s technology secrets https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-64206950
 Egregious Cases of Chinese Theft of American Intellectual Property https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Egregious-Cases-of-Chinese-Theft-of-American-Intellectual-Property.pdf
 150-year US debt view https://www.visualcapitalist.com/timeline-150-years-of-u-s-national-debt
 1% Indian Americans pay 6% of the US taxes https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/current-affairs/1-of-us-population-indian-americans-pay-6-of-taxes-congressman-9857601.html
 Chinese doctrine of winning wars with informationalization https://carnegieendowment.org/2019/04/01/what-are-china-s-cyber-capabilities-and-intentions-pub-78734
 Confessions of a Marxist Newsman (1989) https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1989/02/25/confessions-of-a-marxist-newsman/93b348d7-50a1-417e-b465-2773b1fdb423/
 China coaching Indian media https://www.opindia.com/2020/09/china-chinese-cmmunist-party-propaganda-indian-mainstream-media /
 Journalist Rajiv Sharma arrested for spying for China. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ed-arrests-freelance-journalist-rajeev-sharma-money-laundering-case-1823480-2021-07-03
 Woman arrested for spying on Dalai Lama https://www.wionews.com/india-news/a-chinese-woman-named-song-xiaolan-detained-in-india-will-be-repatriated-is-she-a-spy-547833
 1898 NGO licenses cancelled in 5 years. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/govt-cancelled-fcra-licence-of-1900-ngos-in-last-five-years/articleshow/89452240.cms
 Bollywood revenues from overseas markets https://www.tecxipio.com/single-post/market-research-tool-overseas-markets-for-bollywood-movies
 Dangal earns more in China than in India https://www.cinemaescapist.com/2018/01/indian-movies-want-bigger-profits-focus-china/
 China tops internet attacks https://www.statista.com/chart/2801/china-is-the-worlds-top-source-of-internet-attack-traffic/
 AI technology surveillance in China https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-uses-ai-software-improve-its-surveillance-capabilities-2022-04-08/
 Chinese AI warning https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/18/us/politics/china-spying-technology.html
 Sterlite accuses Chinese companies of fuelling protests at the Thoothakudy plant. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2019/jun/28/vedanta-alleges-chinese-hand-in-sterlite-plant-closure-1996302.html
 Adani is India’s answer to BRI https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Adani-Group-can-lead-India-s-alternative-to-China-s-Belt-and-Road
 Chinese investments in Indian startups https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/chinese-investments-into-indian-startups-hit-a-3-year-high-in-2021/article64937879.ece
 Chinese companies in India https://www.jagranjosh.com/general-knowledge/list-of-chinese-funded-companies-in-india-1500032596-1
 Secrets To Chinese Investment in Indian Startups – Even In This Down Economy https://startuptalky.com/chinese-investment-indian-startups/
 Resources to understand communism https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/anti-communism