It has been reported that Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a stone pelting incident in the Zimithang ( Yangtse) sub -sector of Tawang Sector of LAC in Arunachal Pradesh on 09 December 2022. The place is some 35 KMs from Tawang Monastery. It seems a similar incident had taken place here in October 2021. But this time, it is another serious clash of soldiers of two sides after the Galwan incident of 15 June 2020. It is reported that in this clash of stone pelting at each other , some 30 Indian soldiers suffered minor injuries, including Six seriously wounded. The casualties on the Chinese side are assessed to be higher , but nothing has been confirmed.
It is claimed by Indian authorities that some 200-300 PLA soldiers had come with the intentions of occupying winter- vacated posts of Indian Army on the LAC (Mc Mohan line). PLA troops were surprised , when they found Indian troops still occupying it. It may be noted that after Galwan incident of June 2020, Indian Army had discarded the practice of winter-vacating high altitude posts along the LAC. PLA troops, on being surprised, resorted to physically push out Indian soldiers, which led to stone pelting.
It may be noted that PLA troops were carrying wired clubs and tasers to beat back Indian soldiers. Initially, they had encountered 50 Indian soldiers, who were beefed up with overwhelming strength within 30 minutes. This had not only surprised but shocked the PLA troops. A flag meeting between opposing Commanders brought the end to the incident.
A general question arises as to why Indian soldiers did not use the fire arms. Those who ask this question show their ignorance of three agreements reached between two governments of India and China. These agreements were signed in 1993, 1996 and 2005 as a move for Confidence building measures(CBM) to normalise relations between two neighbours. It was 1996 agreement that forbid soldiers on both sides from the use if fire arms.
It may be noted that Article VI of the 1996 Agreement invites attention . Section One of the Article VI underlines that neither side can open fire guns or use explosives within two kilometres of the LAC. This means that both sides have agreed to not use weapons within the two kilometres of the LAC on both sides. Further , the Agreement signed in 2005 had had reiterated the commitment of both the nations to abide by and implement the 1993 and 1996 agreements.
It is not understood as to why Indian politicians have a memory loss. They first tie the soldiers hand at the back and then ask as to why they had not used the firearms. Article Three of 1996 Agreement goes on to even restrict employment of Tanks , infantry combat vehicles, guns (including howitzers) with 75 mm or bigger calibre, mortars with 120 mm or bigger calibre, surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles and any other weapon system mutually agreed upon along the LAC.
Chinese have found a unique method to circumvent the use of fire arms by employing Clubs with nailed wires and tasers , Indian soldiers have to make do with stones and wooden sticks . It seems the basic purpose of these agreements was to avoid a full scale war erupting between India and China by reducing use of weaponry and aggression at the border.
However, while Indian troops respect the agreements in letter and spirit but the Chinese side show their barbaric intentions by using nomadic weapons . It is for the government of India to understand if such agreements do achieve the purpose or not . They have only put Indian soldiers at a disadvantage .
Another important question is to know as to what were Chinese intentions in indulging in such provocative activities, against India. It may well be aimed at gauging Indian intentions. It is a well known fact that India intends to develop an all weather road, at the cost of ₹2000/ crores, along the water shed to facilitate its transfer of troops from Western sector (Tawang ) of Arunachal Pradesh to Eastern Sector (Mago).
This would enhance India’s manoeuvrability, which is currently handicapped by spurs jutting southwards from Watershed. In order to switch forces from East to West or vice versa, currently troops have to come to Tezpur and then go East or West. It will reduce reaction time. Obviously, this would upset Chinese offensive plans and make it difficult for it to annex its claimed territory of South Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh). This road has similar purpose as is in the case of Dorbuk- Shyok - DBO road in Ladakh Sector.
China’s Hyped activities opposite Arunachal Pradesh might as well be an attempt to brow beat India to accept China’s suzerainty over Aksai Chin as a bargain for Arunachal Pradesh. It might be noted that in 1960, during his visit to India , Chinese premier, Chou En Lai, had offered Arunachal Pradesh to India as a border dispute solution in return for Aksai Chin.
However, 1960 cannot be 2022. A lot of water has flown through River Brahmaputra. Current Chinese strong man, Xi Jinping cannot be Chou En Lai. He is bitten by his ambition to make China as Numero Uno in the world by 2049. He believes in FFYW (Fa Fen, You Wei) Doctrine, which aims to prove one’s worth through firm and aggressive resolve.
It seeks to subdue one’s adversaries through offensive and aggressive actions. It could therefore be a bullying tactics of China. It may be noted that unlike defined LC with Pakistan in J& K, the line of control against China at many places remains undefined. China takes advantage of this and intends to do salami - slicing of Indian administered territory. It keeps shifting its claim lines, both in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
Finally, China might be masking its preparations for annexing Taiwan by initiating a border clash with India . Taiwan is claimed as part of China as an appendage of “One China Policy”. This is a long nourished desire of China, since 1949, when Chiang Kai Sheik occupied it after fleeing from Mainland. Taiwan is a flourishing group of Islands. It is the hub centre of 5 G micro chips, extensively used in automation, communications and command - control systems. China eyes this industry besides geographical asset of Taiwan, which controls move to and for East China Sea and Pacific ocean. Its occupation secures China’s Eastern flank.
There is a strong reason for China to take an offensive action against Taiwan. Pursuing his aggressive policy, Xi Jinping thinks that USA has weakened itself and its global supremacy has been considerably reduced. Ukraine war has proven US impotence to militarily intervene. This has reset the mechanics of China’s Taiwan plans. Indications are that sooner than later Taiwan might become another Ukraine for USA. Skirmishes with India might be deception plan of Xi Jinping. India could expect more such pin- pricking in the near future! Ukraine - 2 is in the making for USA. India to be ready to measure its steps.
(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 author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)