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What is Hybrid Warfare? China’s psychological, economical, geopolitical tactics towards India

What is Hybrid Warfare? China’s psychological, economical, geopolitical tactics towards India


  • GS 3 || Security || Tackling Security Threats || Army, Navy & Airforce

Why in news?

India and China in Hybrid warfare race.


We are now in an era of hybrid warfare, which is a diversified and dynamic mix of conventional, low-intensity, and cyber operations, with conventional combat becoming a fading option. Both regular and irregular armies are used to conduct low-intensity combat. Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Iran’s support for Hezbollah against Israel are two examples. Over time, the use of irregulars and non-state entities to conduct hybrid warfare has gained popularity. Pakistan has mastered this ability after performing the role of a front line state and aiding the mujahideen to defeat the Soviet Army in Afghanistan in the 1980s at the request of the US.

All About Hybrid warfare:

Hybrid warfare:

  • Complicated strategy: The revelations about Chinese spying have brought attention to a seemingly complicated strategy used by major nations in recent decades, most notably Russia and China.
  • Grey zone: Hybrid warfare has been around for about two decades, and the terms “grey zone” operations and “irregular” warfare have been used interchangeably.
  • Hybrid warfare/gray zone/irregular operations are phrases used by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies to describe “any spectrum of measures from nonviolent economic manipulation to low degrees of violence using mercenaries,” according to a paper issued in August this year.
  • Gain strategic and tactical advantage:Changes in deployment basing, advisory missions, arms transfers, or military exercises; claims to military zones; use of sanctions and trade barriers; economic warfare; technological competition; information warfare; support of other states and non-state actors; and other forms of competition designed to gain strategic and tactical advantage are all examples.

Background of hybrid warfare:

  • By China:China’s People’s Liberation Army published Unrestricted Warfare in 1999, which discussed hybrid warfare and the necessity for a shift in the arena of violence from military to political, economic, and technological.
    • Many recent claims have surfaced about China’s use of social media to gather vital military, intelligence, and economic data in the United States and Europe.
  • Lebanon: The Hezbollah group deployed hybrid warfare in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War.
    • It used a variety of techniques, including guerilla warfare, cutting-edge technology, and sophisticated communication campaigns.
  • Russia: It was also employed against Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
    • Disinformation, economic manipulation, the employment of proxies and insurgencies, diplomatic pressure, and other tactics were used.

Features of Hybrid warfare:

  • Disinformation and misinformation operations:Competitors have improved their skills at manipulating and weaponizing data in order to wield power, obtain influence, and oppose associated narratives.”It cited Russian trolls and Chinese propaganda as examples of how social media is being used to affect global audiences.
  • Political and economic coercion:China has employed “debt trap” diplomacy in nations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to “mould their policies toward Chinese advantage and interests,” while Russia has been accused of using political pressure through election intervention.
  • Cyber and space operations:Over the last decade, Russia, China, and Iran have launched large cyberattacks against ally and partner interests, with targets ranging from banks and enterprises to academic institutions and government agencies.
    • Jamming GPS signals and broadcasting false GPS signals are examples of hybrid space operations.”
  • Proxies and state-controlled forces: Hybrid warfare proponents have employed proxies to carry out coercive activities “below the threshold of all-out conflict.”As an example of proxy forces, China’s employment of “civilian” fishing boats operating in contested South China Sea seas.

Hybrid warfare and China:

  • Long and arduous battle:When the Chinese state undertakes a hybrid warfare operation against a large power, it normally anticipates a long and arduous battle requiring extraordinary patience and perseverance.
  • Long-term positional advantage:Unlike the Western approach of focusing on swift and definitive victories, the Chinese usually prioritise long-term positional advantage, avoiding defeat, and maintaining the battle over a lengthy period of time.

How India fought hybrid warfare?

  • Strategy in China:
    • For China’s hybrid warfare approach, the Doklam standoff in 2017 was a disappointment.
    • Following India’s deployment of soldiers to the Doklam plateau, China ramped up “their multi-mode political warfare effort meant to sow dissatisfaction in Delhi and partner capitals, force an Indian withdrawal, and rally the Chinese populace to the cause.”
    • These Chinese political warfare efforts looked to be aimed at intimidating Delhi, causing internal fissures in the Indian government, and inflaming tensions between Delhi and India’s regional and global partners’ capitals.
  • India’s counter strategy:
    • China’s hybrid warfare approach, according to CSBA, encountered a snag since India’s army deployments were made public.
    • Most components of China’s political warfare campaign were effectively countered by India’s leadership releasing specifics of Chinese actions to the foreign media and keeping them up to date on a regular basis.
    • Beijing had little success fostering discontent in Delhi or eroding India’s international political and security ties.

Threats from hybrid warfare:

  • Cyber Attacks: Cyber-attacks against essential infrastructure, such as power grids, business systems, and defence systems. These could be used to disrupt economic activity, weaken institutions, and defame political leaders and the media.
  • Undermining Democracy: Using social media, websites, and adverts, a foreign government could falsify data, spread propaganda and misinformation, and affect democratic systems such as elections.
    • Russia is suspected of interfering in the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom.
  • Inciting Social Discord: The information could be utilised to sow discord and communal tensions in a society, posing a threat to the country’s unity.

Way Forward:

  • Governments should initiate a process to construct a national self-assessment and threat analysis approach. Establishing a procedure for sharing danger and vulnerability information will help with hybrid warfare early warning, resiliency, and may even serve as a deterrent.
  • Hybrid threats are an international issue, and the response should be as well. To understand, identify, and respond to hybrid warfare in their collective interests, national governments should coordinate a coherent response among themselves. Multinational frameworks should be created to facilitate cross-border cooperation and collaboration.

Mains oriented question:

Write about Hybrid warfare? What are the strategies of China foe using hybrid power, what are the steps that India need to take? (200 words)