Salami slicing is a geopolitical term that was used by Matyas Rakosi, a Hungarian communist politician during the 1940s. Later, in the Indian context, this term was used by then India’s Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat in 2017 for the expansionist Chinese regime.
Salami slicing originally means, slicing a bigger piece of meat into smaller chunks which is analogous to its tactical meaning, i.e., achieving a bigger objective using a series of smaller steps.
Although, China has used these kinds of tactics for a long time and there’s nothing new in what it has been doing today but still it is using this pandemic opportunity to its fullest potential in order to concrete its hollow claims. Before the pandemic, China has emerged as a superpower and the world’s second-largest economy over the years and militarily strong enough to impose PRC’s hegemonic design. There have been numerous reports of Chinese provocations involving Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam South Korea, the Philippine, and even Bhutan where the expansionist regime is trying to domineer.
The South China Sea dispute serves as a textbook example of the Salami slicing strategy wherein first China grabbed islands exploiting a temporary weakness in other countries government followed by laying claims in form of “Nine Dash Line”. Then came the construction of small islands in the South China Sea and finally China claimed huge parts of South China sea wherein Chinese Navy (PLAN) now routinely terms US Navy’s “Freedom of Navigation” patrols as illegal trespassing of sovereign Chinese waters!
During the COVID-19 situation which obviously has devastated the Global order while the US is trying to focus more on its internal issues and prepare itself for the upcoming Presidential Elections. Simultaneously, the US is pulling back from the important geopolitical hotspots which are ultimately eyed by the Dragon. China remains the only nation that generated, mastered, exported the COVID-19 virus, and now uses its COVID advantage as an upper hand to silently lay claim more territories in neighboring countries who are busy tackling the increasing number of COVID cases while trying to revive their economy.
For a country like India which is an emerging power, it has used salami-slicing along with military-dominated diplomacy that is to give a jolt at first hand using the military power and then inviting the target country for so-called peaceful diplomatic talks where the three steps forward and two steps backward conclusion results in a gain of one forward step along with a global image of a peace-loving nation.
China has shown a perfect example of the salami-slicing technique when it comes to present faceoff with India as it has already opened multiple fronts with India and it’s provoking moves to lead to the Galwan clash, which was the biggest clash in last 45 years. Now, the two largest nuclear-armed armies on the planet face each other in a prolonged winter standoff. However, this time China has been clearly been surprised as Indians borrowed a page from their textbook to silently occupy six strategic peaks such as Thankung & Spanggur Ridge in a clandestine and farsighted move by the Indian Army.
After foiling the Chinese Salami Slicing strategy, India should now be careful of Chinese moves, even when they are brandished as peaceful. India shall never forget that how Indian diplomats were busy signing treaties for peace and mutual cooperation such as the Panchsheel or Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in 1954 while China was preparing for war. Even before the 1962 war, one of the top Chinese leaders commented that “We have not yet fixed our borderline with some countries” which clearly indicated India as the country.
India has always yearned for peace and often has given concessions to China such as on accepting “One China Policy” while China openly sided with Pakistan on Kashmir. Now its high time that India accepts the reality and tries to maintain peace until our sovereignty and strategic autonomy is not infringed. We should always be cautious of China which practices ruse and deceit as state policy that completely overlooks the international treaties and rules. Therefore, on each occasion, we share a dialogue with China in hope of peace we should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario the incoming war as may be the case in Ladakh.