Deciphering Chinese India Strategy & Indian Response!

"While dealing with China, India cannot lower its guard towards Pakistan. It is going to play the 'China game', no matter what India does to mitigate her grievances."

Deciphering Chinese India Strategy & Indian Response!
"The Chinese diplomatic effort was a five-year masterpiece of guile, executed and probably planned in large part by Chou en Lai. Chou played on Nehru's Asian, anti-imperialist mental attitude, his proclivity to temporise and his sincere desire for an amicable Sino-Indian relationship." - CIA report on 1962 Sino-Indian war -

Some recent actions of China with respect to India must not surprise defence planners in India. They ought to know that China can never be India's friend in the true sense of the meaning of the word "Friendship". Her overt gestures of friendship and peace were basically deceptive acts to hide her real intentions.

China’s aggressive posture towards India and her hectic activities of rail-road construction in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) along with positioning of its troops in the FCNA of Pakistan, some years back, do not hide her future intentions about India. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) recent forays over the last few months into the Indian side of the Line of Control in Ladakh, do not exhibit any signs of real friendship. The face-off continues from April 2020.

China, in 1962, had annexed approximately 38,000 sq. kms of Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, in an agreement with Pakistan in1963, Pakistan had ceded 5,180 sq. kms. Jammu & Kashmir territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) to China. China claims approximately 90,000 sq. kms. of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and about 2000 sq. kms. in the Middle Sector (Himachal Pradesh Uttarakhand region) of the India-China boundary.

China has often asserted that it does not recognize Arunachal Pradesh. There are, thus, serious fault lines in Sino-Indian relations which do not make them "genuine friends", despite overtures of visible friendship by China, whether it was a warm handshake between Indian and Chinese Prime Ministers in Australia, during G-20 Meet in November 2014 or Chinese Strongman and President Xi JinPing's much hyped visit to India in September 2014.

Not even around $100 billion trade between the two neighbours give any indication of a thaw in the relationship. India’s act of joining QUAD (USA, Australia, Japan and India) gives a clear indication that India was wary of Chinese intentions. Accordingly, in the wake of the Galwan incident of 15 June 2020, India took steps to ban over 100 Chinese online Apps, such as Tik tok and others. This was a clear signal to China to lay off.  

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Before we go crystal gazing any further, let us see some of the hostile acts of China in the recent years:-

  • Though there have been reports of the presence of around 10,000 troops in POK for some time but their purpose was not known. China very well knows that India has legal claims over Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). It has now become clear that they were not there merely for maintenance and construction of roads but for a strategic design. It was reported by the intelligence agencies and there are also press reports that China has been training Pakistani troops along the Line of Control in POK. Is it an act of Friendship?
  • On April 15, 2013, some 50 PLA troops invaded Indian territory, up to 19 KMs in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) Sector of Ladakh and established a tented camp. Thereafter PLA has flexed its muscles two to three times in the same place. Aggressive posture by PLA was aimed at sizing up India's military prowess and its ability to question China. Are they friendly acts?
  • A nuclear Submarine from China had some years back anchored at a Sri Lankan port as part of its much claimed "String of Pearls" policy. Its 'string of pearls' spreads from Gwador in Pakistan through Hamanbantota in Sri Lanka to Myanmar. Besides, China had been busy making forays into South Asia around India.
  • For some years, China has been issuing Stapled Visas to Kashmiri, thus questioning its accession to India. Besides, it is in occupation of some 43180 Sq KMs of Indian territory in J&K.
  • China has been slowly and steadily copying up to India's neighbors and making them hostile towards India. Pakistan, Nepal, SriLanka and Mayanamar have fallen into her pocket and now Bangla Desh too, is being won over.
  • In the past, China is known to have provided arms and moral support to India's separatists from the North East states. Naga hostiles and ULFA hostiles have been provided safe sanctuaries in China. Now Maoists and Naxalites have also been provided material support and training.
  • Let us not forget China’s act in UNSC of stalling Pakistani terrorists , such as Hafiz Saeed , from being declared as “persona non grata”. Then China’s open support to Pakistan on Kashmir in United Nations forums clearly shows no sign of friendly gestures.  
  • China’s recent incursion in Eastern Ladakh since April 2020,  tops the list of hostile acts against India. More than 13 meetings of Military Commanders have been held but China has not buzzed an inch from its stated position. On top of it, in a physical clash on 15 June 2020, India lost 20 soldiers, which certainly does not make matters for good relations. Hereafter it will be a sheer folly to treat China anything other than a big threat to Indian integrity and unity.

China has been covertly conducting ‘Cyber Warfare’ against India, aimed at affecting the command and control systems by virus attack on Indian official computers, either to make them dysfunctional or hack them to extract vital information. Towards this end, China has recently demonstrated her capability to shoot a satellite, which can cripple command and control systems based on satellite communications.

Also, China has been carrying out a clandestine trade war to capture markets frequented by Indian goods---like the Nigerian Malaria drug incident, where spurious medicines were being sold under brand name India. We all know that some months back, China had tried to block aid to Arunachal Pradesh from Asian Development Bank

A Chinese defence strategist, Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang had written an article, published in Chinese language, on the internet, on August 08, 2009. Though the article was meant for domestic consumption of China, it was linked to the Chinese international institute for Strategic studies (IISS).

Therefore, it could not be ignored that it was not China’s official thinking. The article was later deleted from the website. The main thrust of the article was to break up India into 20-30 states. To do so, it advocated usage of hostile neighbors such as Pakistan and Maoist Nepal and cultivation of other countries around India.

Therefore one ought to understand that China has been steadily pursuing a policy of not only containing India both economically and militarily but breaking it up through internal implosion, being fused through an "Outsourced" War by Other Means (WOM) to Pakistan. Thus, China’s overall military strategy against India has been four pronged:-

  • Contain and isolate India by making her neighbors hostile and unfriendly.
  • Outsource its low cost proxy war to Pakistan and Maoists/Naxalites by:-

(i) Support and encourage internal insurgencies brewing in India and thus break up India through implosion.

(ii) Using Pakistan to the maximum to retard India’s military and economic growth.

  • Dominate sea-lanes around India through a ‘String of Pearls’ policy.
  • Befool Indian leadership and Indian public through overt goodwill gestures in the interregnum period.  
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While dealing with China, Indiacan not lower its guard towards Pakistan. It is going to play "China game", no matter what India does to mitigate her grievances. Pakistan is unreliable and India must NOT fall into the "Peace Talks'' trap of Pakistan. Instead, it should prepare grounds to engage her in Balochistan and KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA (KPK) provinces.

Time for open support to Pakhtoons, as does Pakistan in Kashmir. Show it to Pakistan that it has its own vulnerabilities in Karachi, Sindh and Tribal region of Waziristan. Pakistan is China's main weapon against India. It is going to provide her all help, other than physical intervention in a military conflict.

Time to tell China that its Achilles heel lay in autonomous regions of Tibet and Outer Mongolia. Besides, UIGHUR Muslims of erstwhile East Turkestan or the Xinjiang province of China are as good a game as are the Kashmiri Muslims. Mainland China, too, has serious economic and social problems.

Democratic movement might have been checked but it's simmering. The flames could rise any day if fuel is added. China's neighbors, like Vietnam, Taiwan and ASEAN nations are also not comfortable with China. They need a shoulder to rest and India can provide this shoulder, once it is clear  to its Political leadership the significance of its "Look East Policy."

In conclusion, one would only say that India has to develop a counter strategy which would effectively deal with all the four ingredients of China's India strategy. Priority must be given to homemade insurgencies, such as Maoists and J&K Militancies. India must develop strategic and military partnerships with Australia, Japan and Vietnam. QUAD needs to be converted into a strategic and military alliance.  

India ought to cozy up to ASEAN states besides mollifying its Eastern and Southern neighbors. Pakistan must be kept busy in KPK. and Balochistan. The Afghanistan imbroglio must be handled more tactfully. It must be weaned away from Pakistan and Chinese influence. Exploit our good relations with Central Asian republics such as Tajikistan, Iran and Turkmenistan.

About The Author

Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected]

(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')

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