“The current lack of clarity amongst our decision-makers is rooted in incomprehension of the long-term strategic aims and objectives that underpin China’s belligerent conduct,” said former Navy Chief Admiral Arun Parkash (Retd.) in his article on the Mission Victory India (MVI) website published on 25 June 2020.
Notwithstanding the agreements arrived at during the military commanders meets and diplomatic talks on disengagement plans on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control (LAC) conflict in Eastern Ladakh, after 16 June 2020, the situation on the ground along the LAC has not changed even a bit.
The latest input is that post the Galwan Valley clashes on 15 June, China has built up two motorised divisions in the Depsang plains. It has deployed heavy artillery, vehicles, and Tanks opposite Depsang plains, which lay some 30 odd kilometres South East of the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO). China is maintaining a threatening posture despite the multiple rounds of so-called ‘sweet and cordial’ talks.
To be very frank, the genesis of the latest crisis in Eastern Ladakh emanates from the thoughtless border-management agreements, signed between India and China in 1993, 1996, and 2013. These agreements favoured China and India was militarily made impotent. The Indian political leadership, fearful of the 1962 debacle, has always opted for a ‘No war strategy’ with China. In fact, after the 1967 Nathula clashes, it was China who wanted to avoid war with India.
Anyways, overwhelmed by the glaring defeat of 1962, Indian political leaders and defence strategists have made three major blunders in the wake of offensive moves made by China on the LAC, passively submitting to Chinese whims and fancies.
The first was the non-development of infrastructure along the LAC/Border, fearing that China would exploit it in a future war, this was a defeatist policy. To put it more distinctly the policy smacked of divorce before marriage or to put it even more bluntly, it was an abortion even before conception.
China had long sensed this ‘weak-kneed’ leadership of India. Therefore, before and after the 1962 war, China took advantage of the Indian leaderships 'scarecrow’ approach and started militarisation of its border as per its claims. In doing so, China developed railroad communications not only from Mainland China to Tibet, but also along the entire LAC/Border with India.
Thus, China militarily strengthened itself in Tibet, while India kept talking peace. Visits by Indian Prime Ministers, whether by Rajiv Gandhi or Atal Bihari Vajpayee or even Narendra Modi, bore no fruits. These visits were probably taken as signs of weakness. It is a well-known fact of history: the more one appeases a belligerent nation, the more that nation becomes aggressive. This appeasement has been the bane of India’s China policy.
The second blunder was not having demarcated the LAC, both—on the map and on the ground, before signing these border management agreements during different periods in time. It was probably done at the behest of bureaucratic advice or ‘Sarkari Generals’. Why should India have done it, if it was not scared? Maybe not the Indian public nor the armed forces, but the leadership was certainly ‘chicken hearted’.
A military maxim from Alexander the Great applies to the Indian leadership of all these years since Independence. It says: “I am not scared of a hundred tigers led by a Sheep, but afraid of a hundred sheep led by a tiger”. China saw through this weakness to realise that Indian soldiers might be tigers, but they were definitely led by sheep.
What did India leadership expect from security forces to manage on the LAC, when it was left to varied interpretation by both sides, when fresh troops arrived? Surprisingly, pliable Generals too did not object. China should have been stopped in its strides by 1990, at least.
The third blunder was to take defence of the Chinese border lightly by keeping it under the aegis of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which is led by officers from the Indian Police Service (IPS) and under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). What does a police force know about offensive and defensive warfare? It is not trained to fight like an army. More so, police officers have no idea about High Altitude and Mountain Warfare. It is doubtful if the ITBP was even patrolling the area properly, what else can explain how Chinese had come and located themselves between Finger 4 and 8?
Admiral Arun Parkash, as quoted above, is right because Indian leadership right from Jawahar Lal Nehru onwards, barring Indra Gandhi, had lacked strategic vision. Afraid of a military coup, they not only neglected their armed forces but also did not allow military men anywhere near defence policy making. This resulted in an ineffective and improper strategy of appeasement against China being formulated.
India, over the years since 1962, has carried on with its appeasement policy with China. In fact, it followed a ‘weak-kneed’ policy of avoiding a war at all costs. The Chinese strategy has been to act as a friend during the day and a rapist at night. All these talks of agreements and disengagements even now, act as nothing but lollipops. China cannot be trusted, a foe for all seasons of the year.
Henry Kissinger has narrated an incident about India’s war with China in his book, where he quotes Mao Zedong telling his Commanders that a war with India was to knock some sense into its leaders. Mao is often also alleged to have said that he wanted to teach a lesson to Nehru. He indeed taught a lesson, but we learnt the wrong one.
Disengagement is a ploy to fool Indian leaders, both—military and civil, while it continues to build up along LAC and slowly keep biting body limbs bit by bit. India’s desire for peace and harmony with China is her biggest enemy. Avoiding war with China is not an option anymore. It can be done only at peril to Indian security and integrity.
Ever since the rise of Xi Jinping in China, it has been following its global ambitions aggressively. It has long abandoned Deng Xiao peng’s doctrine of; Tao Guang, Huang Yei’ (TGHY)— which means “Maintain a low profile; bide your time and keep making progress and development.” This is how Deng Xiao peng had opened China in 1979 when he came to power. He launched the ‘Four Modernisations’ and laid the base for China’s military and economic base.
However, Xi Jinping is 180 degrees opposite. He wants to adopt aggressive policy to project China’s new power. He believes in ‘Fan Fa, You Wei’ (FFYW). It asks for an ‘aggressive Projection of Chinese power’. In the wake of Covid 19 spread, and China’s global isolation, one can see the aggressive statements by Chinese diplomats, all over the world. It is also referred to as ‘Wolf Warrior diplomacy’, taking its name from two Chinese blockbuster movies. It is nothing but ‘Chinese Ramboism’.
The main theme of FFYW is intimidation and bullying of one’s adversary while avoiding war. China does it on three platforms, these are namely, psychological, media and legal aspects. It exploits adversaries' weaknesses in the political, media and legal systems. It attacks political vulnerabilities of democracies; it buys media houses and disgruntled individuals to create a sense of anarchy. It endeavours to make the adversary collapse without going to war.
Tormented by worldwide isolation due to Coronavirus and deteriorating internal situation, Xi Jinping wanted to divert both public and global attention. Therefore, it chose to create a situation on the LAC with India to make it look like a global incident. It served the purpose of invoking Nationalism in China. But did it do so?
It has been now ascertained that Galwan action on June 15 was premeditated to intimidate India with an aim to dissuade it from making the Quad with USA, Japan, Australia. It is also learnt that the said action of 15 June was to ‘teach India a lesson’. It is indicated by US intelligence reports that the Galwan action was ordered by senior Chinese Commander, General Zhao Zongqi, head of the Western Theater Command. He had approved the operation.
It seems Gen. Zhao Zhingqi had been very vocal to say that China must not appear weak so as to avoid exploitation by the United States and its allies. Therefore, this face-off was a way to ‘teach India a lesson.’ In fact, General Zhao Zhongqi is not the only one, who advocated aggression in Chinese Conduct. There are a whole lot of Chinese Scholars who display such aggression. The Global Times is their mouthpiece.
A Chinese scholar, Yan Quetong from Tsinghua University, points out that China should embark on reforms in its foreign policy in four areas. These areas are: directly confronting the adversary rather than avoiding conflict; China should develop a ‘strategic opportunity period’ rather than waiting for a strategic opportunity; China should begin to mould international society as per its wishes because it is in a position to do so. Finally, China should change its non-alignment approach and make efforts to establish a community of common destiny.
Therefore, there you are, then. China wants to mould the world and its neighbours according to its designs and under its tutelage. It has been challenging the USA and standing up to it. All the global institutions like WHO, WTO and even UNO are seemingly under its thumb. Monetary institutions like the IMF and World Bank are at its beck and call. It is the owner of Asian Development Bank. It controls the world economy through its manufacturing hub.
Most of the small African states are buried under its ‘debt trap’. It has already browbeaten South China Sea neighbours. It silences the five rim states at will. In South Asia, in its neighbourhood, it has pocketed Pakistan (it is nothing but another autonomous region of China — call it PAR-Pakistan autonomous region). The same is happening to Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. It is even trying to woo Bangladesh. So, who is left but India?
China knows that India was the last frontier to be conquered before it embarks on a journey to Global supremacy. It also knows that a large-scale military confrontation was not a profitable option. It would only benefit the USA and European Union. It defeats its very aim of Global over lordship. The best way is to militarily intimidate and create a political anarchy in India through partnership with Indian traitors, in politics, media and other such institutions to implode India from within.
What should be India ‘s response? It must be deliberate, calibrated and measured one. First things first. India must make its response noticeably clear to China. It should say, “Come on China, come! You want a war? We will give you the bloodiest war! India is ready.” There should be no doubts left and India must show its belligerent face. A full-fledged war, even conventional is not in the interests of China.
China would have two options — either incite Pakistan to go for war with India over Kashmir, while it holds India on its LAC and disallows switching of forces. It would also make the USA ineffective to an extent that it would hesitate to intervene. However, India would get a good opportunity to get Baltistan-Gilgit liberated by holding China in Eastern Ladakh and launching a pre-emptive offensive along Turtuk-Skardu axis. But it must hold in strength and abort China’s plan to capture DBO-Depsang Plains and Shyok valley.
Second option of China is to capture territories in all or any one of these four Tri junctions on India’s border with China. These are:-
—- Siachen DBO -Ladakh Tri junction with Pakistan and China
—- Lipulekh- Kalapani Tri junction with Nepal and China
—- Doka La - Chumbi valley Tri Junction with Bhutan and China
—- Diphu La Trijunction with Myanmar and China
Last two are in the Eastern sector. First one is in the Western Sector and second one is in the Central Sector. These are strategic locations and any territory grabbed by India or China would make others vulnerable and cause damage to image. Though all four are important but one each in the Central Sector and western sector are especially important.
China has its eyes on Siachen-DBO as it separates Gilgit Baltistan from Aksai Chin, it is so strategically located that it can at a future date provide a launching pad towards Highway G-219. In Aksai Chin. Therefore, China would not only like to deny India this advantage but also try to seize it or capture it. It could be an airborne operation along with a ground thrust from Depsang valley. Should it happen, India must exercise its own offensive option through Lipulekh- Kalapani axis directly into the mid centre of Tibet. While this happens in the western sector, the two Tri-junctions in Eastern sectors must be held in strength.
China will also exploit internal vulnerabilities of India, not only Maoists and North East Insurgencies but also its political and media partners to weaken political determination and demoralise armed forces. Should the war break out, known media and political favourites of China must be quarantined. All political activities are to be banned.
Also, a word about Indian intelligence agencies. Instead of chasing political masters they must keep a proper eye on India’s enemies. Regular appreciation must be carried out. Also, it is important that LAC guarding troops such as ITBP, SSB and the BSF should be placed under MoD for all purposes. In fact, it would be better if ITBP/SSB Bns are converted into an Infantry Regiment of the Indian Army and offered by army officers, police officers should be weeded out.
A comprehensive national security doctrine for dealing with China must be formulated. Avoiding war with China is no more an option. War is the only option if China continues to show aggressiveness on the LAC. What cannot be cured, must be endured! China must know that India is more than equal in defensive capabilities and it can smash China’s face. If it launched an offensive. Out of 12 best cruise Missiles in the world, four are from India. It includes Nirbhay Mark -12 (11th position and range 1250 km); Brahmos-1 (6th position-range 300-500 km); Brahmos-Ii Mach -7 (2nd Position with range 450 km), and Shahryar-Mach 7.5 (1st position-range 700 km). The Shaurya Missile is currently the fastest missile in the world, and it can carry a payload of one ton.
If China triggers a war, we have matching defensive capability. Therefore, the only way to avoid war for China is to retreat to an acceptable date to India and the disengagement of troops should be based on the positions occupied each before 10 April 2020. China should be told once for all, if you want war, you should have it. Get back to April 10, 2020 position or else you would be responsible for the consequences. Be prepared to physically throw them out.
(The author was a former CO of 3 Bihar. Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')
(Col Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into the 3 Bihar Regiment in June 1971 and was the Commanding Officer of same unit in insurgency environs in Assam in 1990-93. Has vast experience in CI Ops from North East to Punjab and J&K. A prolific writer-cum-critic on defence and security matters, he has authored the book, ‘Kashmir: A Different Perspective’. His second book on Assam was released in April 2018. Held prestigious appointments in the army including as an instructor at a premier army institute, Col GS, Col Adm of an Infantry Division and Col "Q" works at a Command HQ. He can be contacted on e-mail: [email protected])