As expected, my last article, China and India, evinced a lot of response from India, most of it indignant, laced with misplaced patriotism and a total misunderstanding of what was said. One response was sensible, so there is hope yet. The problem is that when such an article is written by a Pakistani it immediately becomes an India-Pakistan thing and people lose their balance. I had only referred to a paper issued by China's Institute of Strategic Studies that said that India should be broken up into 30 independent states. Another said that China would only attack India if it adopted a new 'Forward Policy' and amassed additional troops along the disputed north-eastern border, as it did in 1962, which led to war. I also referred to an article by Bharat Verma in India Defence Review in which he said that China would launch an attack on India by 2012 (in tandem with Pakistan) because its economic downturn would lead to social and political unrest and the fear of the Communist Party of China (CPC) of losing control. Verma also said that India was not prepared for such an eventuality. I referred to Chen Xiaochen in China Business News saying that only one scenario could lead to war: "an aggressive Indian policy toward China, a 'New Forward Policy' may aggravate border disputes and push China to use force....India's 60,000 additional soldiers may largely break the balance." So the provocation is already there, though India contends that the additional troops are there to any potential enhanced threat there. These are not fly by night opinions. China's Institute of Strategic Studies has to be taken seriously because it reflects one stream of thought in the Chinese ruling establishment, especially when the leadership has allowed it to be published, which it could not be without its nod. They were definitely passing a message. So was Chen Xiaochen. I had wondered when the human race would mature, particularly when we are talking of the two oldest civilisations in the world, albeit somewhat static and frozen in time in many ways. If it happens, the Asian Century will have been just a nice sound byte and the American Century will continue into this millennium. There is no need to go hysterical over it. How many times have we Pakistanis read of US plans or analyses emanating from this think tank or that university to break up our country and even seen maps of what it will look like after the event. But we have not gone ape over it. In the end, what happens to us is in our hands, and if we lose then it will be our own fault, not entirely but in the largest measure. It all depends on knowing ones own strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of our enemies and how well we play the cards that we are holding. The matter has not ended there. You will all agree that the People's Daily has to be taken seriously because it is the official organ of the CPC. Li Hongmei has written in the paper: "Some are afraid that a fresh border dispute between China and India would become the spark plunging the two neighbours again into a 'partial military action'. And India seems to have been conspiring to create the picture of an imminent war by deploying 60,000-strong additional troops and four SU-30 fighters along the 650-mile unfenced border with China." The stupidity has started, just as when Indian premier Jawaharlal Nehru menacingly waved his walking stick in the Lok Sabha and threatened to "teach China a lesson." Followed what is called "India's China War" in 1962 and despite massive US help India got a spanking and got taught a painful lesson itself. It possibly killed Nehru. The fear is that this time it could be more than just a spanking. Continues Li: "Decades have elapsed since the border war, but Indians still look on China through [a] tinted lens, which could merely produce untrue pictures and even distortions. As an Indian military official put it, 'Indians maintain the same national sentiments towards China as the way the Chinese do at the mention of Japan and Japanese', many Indians actually have very subtle impression upon China, which has been translated into a very complicated mindset-awe, vexation, envy and jealousy - in the face of its giant neighbour. "The reason for this mentality is multi-faceted, and brought about by both historical factors and reality. In 1947, when India freed itself from British colonisation and won independence, it was one of the global industrial powers, ranking Top 10 in the world and far ahead of the then backward China. But today, China's GDP has tripled that of India and per capita income doubled, which turns out to be a totally unacceptable fact to many Indians. And with China's galloping economic growth...the wealth gap between China and India has increasingly widened." Li also blames Western powers of inciting India to challenge China, "even insidiously convincing India that China would be the 'greatest obstacle' threatening India's rise." Beijing is also irritated by the Asian Development Bank approving $2.9 billion to finance projects in "so-called 'Arunachal Pradesh' involving disputed areas between China and India." Li calls ADB's "unbecoming programme...counterproductive" because "it has again dealt a blow to the already rickety China-India relationship...the active steps lately taken by the leaders from both sides to thaw the feud would be more or less hobbled by it." I have quoted extensively from Li lest a Pakistani is accused of writing (or wishing) this himself. Assuming that China's phenomenal economic growth cannot go on forever, George Friedman (founder of Stratfor) says in his best-selling book The Next 100 Years that with the economic downturn China could go one of two ways. One: Even though the central government will be more "assertive and nationalist" it "will be weakened by the corrosive effect of money. China will remain formally united, but power will tend to devolve to the regions." By 2020 China could divide between "competing regional leaders, foreign powers taking advantage of the situation to create regions where they can define economic rules to their advantage, and a central government trying to hold it all together but failing." Two: a "neo-Maoist China, centralised at the cost of economic progress." Therefore, Friedman feels: "China does not represent a geopolitical fault line in the next twenty the extent that China will be involved with foreign powers, it will be defending itself against encroachment rather than projecting its own power." There is a third possibility. A China under immense economic, social and internal political pressure, yet militarily very powerful nevertheless, could invade India and divide it, not least to knock out competition apart from fuelling its own military industrial complex, as America does. That is one of many possible geopolitical fault lines in the near future. The question then is: will America side with India or will it stand aside and let its two potential rivals destroy themselves? If America has any sense (which is moot) it should stand aside and watch the show. The 21st century then will also be America's. The writer is a senior political analyst E-mail: