There are alleged reports of China reinforcing its troops and weapons systems along the Eastern Ladakh Line of Control (LoC). The speculation of China’s likely designs became a suspect after the visit of General MM Naravane to Ladakh and his admission that China has increased its forces in Eastern Ladakh.
It has been corroborated by satellite images of Chinese build up in Tibet. But General Naravane had also assured that India was well prepared meet such an eventuality. And China knows it very well. It had seen the trailer of Indian soldiers’ preparedness on 15 June 2020, when Galwan incident took place.
Therefore, the build up by China smacks of its same old tactics, as it did in 2020. As a deception plan, it had energized both borders, East (opposite Taiwan) and West (Opposite Ladakh) to keep the world guessing on its real intentions. There are no doubts that, as a corollary to its 'One China Policy', Taiwan remains its Priority One Target.
Therefore, an alarmist view of imminent Chinese military offensive in Eastern Ladakh, ought to be rejected because the ground factors speak otherwise. China has its priority on Taiwan. 56 Chinese fighters’ jets intruded into Taiwan air space, the other day. There are economic and many other reasons which is compelling China to grab Taiwan now or never.
Recent military buildup by China in East Ladakh is a precautionary and a diversionary measure to hold back India if China gets involved in a military conflict over Taiwan. The fear of QUAD rings very hard in Chinese ears. If war breaks out over Taiwan and USA gets involved, then India is expected to intervene in Ladakh and Tibet as part of QUAD.
Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan (LAGB) are second priority for China. By fingering India in 2020, as a diversionary tactics, China has already lost a golden opportunity in November 2020 to grab Taiwan, when USA was busy in presidential elections. It had designed to mislead USA by creating a threat in Eastern Ladakh.
But USA did not buy the bait. And instead had dispatched two Aircraft carriers to South China Sea (SCS). It put a full stop to whatever designs China had on Taiwan. Having failed to realise its objective in the East, China put in effect Plan B to heat up Eastern Ladakh border. It was met with stiff resistance by India. Its secondary objective of LAGB was a threat in being till US Presidential elections in November 2020.
Xi Jinping is losing popularity in China. Time is running out for him. He has to quickly do something to retrieve his lost popularity. Annexation of Taiwan can only allow him to regain the position. It will ensure ONE CHINA policy. Misadventure in Ladakh does not give him this pleasure because India, under Modi, is NO Pushover. It will further push him down.
What more Chinese economy is melting? 40 years China’s economic growth is now slowing down, China is in the thick of a big economic crisis. Its EVERGRANDE builders have reached its bankruptcy. It owes some $310 USD as debt to its clients. 15 skyscrapers if this company had to be brought down because there were NO BUYERS in China. Chinese economy which was driven by Construction and real estate has now reached a stalemate. Many other businesses are at the cusp of a collapse.
EVERGRANDE collapse is now being equated with 'Lehman Brothers Moment' of USA in its 2007 meltdown of economy. It is 2% of Chinese GDP. There are 70,000 Chinese investors who want their money back from EVERGRANDE. There are other Chinese owned companies who are at the verge of becoming bankrupt. The bubble of Chinese economic growth is about to burst.
As most commentators are now observing that China has peaked its growth and down the hill — India is on the upswing. 80% of its working population is reached a non-working stage. It has only 20% working population. COVID-19 has made public opinion hostile against China These are other reasons for economic meltdown.
Another reason for China to build up in Tibet is due to rising incidents of restlessness and near revolt in Tibet and Xinjiang province. Uighur insurgency, led by East Turkmenistan Independence Movement (ETIM) of Xin Jiang has posed a real threat to China after Taliban Takeover in adjoining Afghanistan. China has 75 Kilometers border with Afghanistan through Wakhan Corridor.
Recent killing of nine Chinese engineers by ETIM activists, working in Dasu Hydro project of Balochistan Province in Pakistan, has further enhanced China’s worries. Though, it is trying to Molly coddle Taliban by its money, but it knows Taliban cannot be trusted. Tehrik Taliban Pakistan is in league with ETIM.
In view of above factors, any military misadventure by China against its formidable opponent, India, will not achieve anything. It might backfire on Xi Jinping. China knows it. Build up by China is a bogey call. At best, it was a defensive measure to checkmate India against a coordinated act as part of QUAD. However, India cannot lower its guard and remain alert.
About The Author
Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in 1971 War and has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence and 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')