Since time immemorial, the Dragon has been raising it’s sinister eyebrows and following it’s expansionist mission along the line of actual control. Consequently time and again, the Indian army has had to tackle these excursions from the Chinese side. Once again this time also, our army proved its indomitable might when on the night of 15th June 2020 at point No.14 in Galwan valley in Eastern Ladakh, its brave hearts killed nearly 35 to 45 Chinese soldiers in a hand to hand combat.The Chinese side although remained in a denial mode but did admit to the causalities inflicted upon them by us. If the Amercian agencies are to believed, the no. of casualties on the Chinese side stands at around 35. Sadly, in this hand to hand scuffle, 20 of our brave hearts also attained martyrdom but their martyrdom will not go in vain. This incident has surely nailed the iron rod into the PLA and has taught them a lesson to remember for years. Moreover the casualties suffered by them were beyond their expectation. Moreover,this unprovoked barbaric attack on the unarmed Indian soldiers has one again proved that the country like China and its communist party leadership has double standards. They are dicey, untrustworthy and unpredictable and there have been innumerable past incidents reverberating the tails of deceit by the Chinese. Their actions do not commensurate to their commitments. Henceforth, it is imperative for those who are at the helm of affairs in India, to be much more vigilant about them. We must adopt an aggressive calibrated and a balanced strategy to out smart Chinese expansionist and aggressive manoeuvers. It is not out of context to mention here that whatever happened in Galwan valley was not incidental, but it was a well thought of pre planned strategy to secure an edge over Indian troops in the forward locations and also was planned to demonstrate their might , forcibly to bring the Indian side onto the negotiation table as per their terms and conditions. As per reports the plan was hatched by Chinese military Commander of Western theater command to infuse confidence among Chinese soldiers and also to bolster the image of PLA and Chinese leadership among its masses.It is a hard known fact that, the ruling communist party of China (CPC) and its leadership after attaining Independence has a long standing mission of becoming world’s military and economic power. As a result they have been indulging in various expansionist manoeuvers not only on Western, Central and Eastern sectors of LAC but they are bullying smaller nations like, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines in South China sea .
Therefore in the present day context it is very important to understand what provoked China to shift its strategy towards India? Also what sort of strategy Indian analysts authorities are required to adopt to counter aggressive and expansionist design of Dragon along the LAC. To get answers to this, one needs to analyse the cause of Chinese expansionist and aggressive manoeuvers and their mind set. Firstly, it is a well acknowledged fact that the Chinese have a long history of occupying and annexing the areas of neighbouring countries using by all means including physiological warfare. As on date, the people’s Republic of China has around 9.597M kms area, the third largest in the world. This also includes nearly 4.076 M kms territories of Inner Mongolia, East Turkestan,Tibet, Akasi chin area of erst while Jammu & Kashmir ( now Union Territory of Ladakh),Shaksgam valley and many other small pockets and Islands in South China sea’. Inner Mongolia with an area around 1.183 M kms was annexed by China immediately after World War II with Soviet support and established it as an autonomous region in the year 1947. Initially Chinese occupied the Hulunbuir region but subsequently they expanded towards West words and annexed five out of six original leagues over a span of ten years. Similarly East Turkestan also known as Uyghuristan with an area of around 1.665 M kms which was earlier occupied by Qing dynasty in eighteenth century also became a part of People Republic of China(PRC) in the year 1949. PRC also annexed Tibetan plateau with area around 1.228 M kms in the year 1959 and deprived peace loving Tibetans from their home land. But Chinese lust for annexing neighbours area did not stop there and had an eye on Aksai Chin area. So in 1950’s China had surreptitiously built nearly 179 km long road in Indian territory of Aksai chin and later on started laying claim on that strategically important area of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State (Now Union territory of Ladakh). Finally they occupied Aksai chin having area around 38000 sq km after 1962 war with India. Parallelly on the pretext of settling boundary difference with Pakistan, China acquired strategically important Shaksgam valley( 5000 sq km area) from Pakistan. This paved the way for execution of their ambitious plan of resurrecting the ancient trade/ routes to Middle East by constructing Karakoram Highway which now connects Xinjing province of China to Gwadar port of Pakistan under one belt one road projects. Besides China is also laying debit trap for cash strapped weak and smaller nations by offering them loan as per its own terms and conditions on the name of infrastructure development. In the event of non payment of installments, the assets created by Chinese companies are ultimately taken over by China on 99 years lease. The taking over of Hanbantota port in Sri Lanka by Chinese authorities on non payment of loan installment is a glaring example of their expansionist mind set.
Similarly the present stand off in Ladakh sector also reflects the nefarious designs of Chinese aggression towards India and also its intention to unilaterally alter the status quo on LAC. A multitude of factors can be seen to facilitate and fuel the execution of this mischievous plan of China against India ; First and the foremost is the making of Ladakh a Union Territory and revocation of Article 370 from the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state (now Two Union territories Jammu -Kashmir, and Ladakh).The Chinese side somehow have not been able to assimilate the above development. Secondly, India’s building up of massive infrastructure along the line of actual control for effective patrolling and quick deployment of additional troops at the time of crisis has also not gone down well with the Chinese.
Ironically, this is being opposed by the Chinese, even though they themselves have built on their side. Third, and the most significant aspect is the Prime Ministers’ big push for “Aatam Nirbhar Bharat” i.e. buy and produce Indian goods. He has time and again laid emphasis on Make in India and also has endorsed with a constant thrust for innovative start ups and revamping of supply chain. The Chinese have developed a psychological fear that this Indian move may affect their economy in the long run and this repercussion is inevitable. This can be attributed to the fact that their economy is largely based and thrives on export to other countries.It is a known fact that annual bilateral trade between India and China is around 100 billion US $ with trade deficit of around 48.7 billion US$.As a result Chinese companies are annually earning nearly huge profit in from Indian market. Even the total turn over of Chinese electronic in India in the year 2019 was around 1.4 lakh crore of rupees .
Fourthly, India’s growing foot prints into Indo-Pacific strategy and the quadrilateral security dialogue(QSD) commonly known as quad to contain China and other host of bilateral issues, where India has acted against the interests of Chinese companies keen to do business in India . Also refusal to join Xi Jinping’s one of the most ambiguous and cherished ” one belt and one road dream project. These steps by India to contain the Chinese onslaught can have implications on China.
Lastly, the Covid-19 pandemic has also segregated China in the international arena.As a result most of the international companies are pulling out of Chinese cities and are looking for alternative destinations in other countries. India is seen as one of the lucrative destination for their production. Hence through these manoeuvers along LAC, Chinese leadership wants to send clear message for those countries who want to shift their companies from China to India. Hence in a nutshell we can say that the face off at Sikkim, Galwan valley, Demchok and Pangong Tso lake was pre planned well thought of strategy to create disturbance along LAC and also to send signals across the world that the conditions in India are not conducive for investment. Further, through this aggressive and hardened posture Chinese leadership is keen to convey to world particularly to small countries to fall in line. This never ending volatile situation needs careful strategic outlook in the future also and short comings of the past need to be addressed. As per the available data there were around 1100 incursions by PLA in three years from 2014 onward and nearly 380 face off between the patrols of two armies. This has come despite the fact that two countries have signed number of agreements for maintaining peace and tranquility along LAC. Notably among them are 1993, 1994, 2005, 2011 and 2013 agreements. But Chinese never adhered to these agreements. They spread their wings slowly and steadily and occupied Indian territory on the name of perceptional difference on line of actual control at certain locations.Parellelly with eye on Siachen glacier region PLA is regularly holding joint exercises with Pakistani army in this high altitude region since 2011 onward.This makes localized two front war a reality.There fore , India has to be prepared for future two front war with its Northern and Western neighbour. Needless to mention here that future war is going to be intense ,short and highly technology oriented.Technology will dictate the terms.Keeping this aspect in mind PLA has enhanced its non kinetic capability through Strategic Support(SS) comprising of cyber ,space electronic and management of electromagnetic spectrum for disrupting and paralysing adversary’s strategic assets. As per available information Western Theatre Command is regularly practising its manoeuvers in advanced electronic environment.There fore, in the event of war with India they may use this non kinetic capability against Indian army and air force.To counter Dragon, India needs to have a multi prong approach.First and fore most is aggressive diplomatic approach against aggression on LAC.Let the world know that China is aggressor and trying to change Status quo of LAC unilaterally. Secondly,to inflict dent to Chinese economy Indian masses must boycott Chinese goods.Chinese companies should not be allowed to do business in Indian markets. Third, the psychological war fare through military manoeuvers. Fourth, the last one is localized high tech war keeping in mind Chinese capabilities in electronic environment. There fore short term and long term aggressive pre calibrated and balanced strategy is the need of the hour.
(The author is former Director General & Special Secretary DRDO, MoD GoI)