This has to be seen in the larger Indo-China relationship. China has been systematically encircling India militarily all around it for quite some time now. These developments have been noted with some disquiet in India – especially in Military circles. On the political level, there is near-total consensus on China: it is a major threat; only political expediency prevents India from officially designating China as a principal threat. George Fernandes stands as the only Defence Minister to have openly stated that China is the threat number one for India.
China potential threat number one: George Fernandes
India’s New Defense Chief Sees Chinese Military Threat
India realised that in preparing for Pakistan, it had left the Chinese border practically open – wide open. And thus started India’s China Programme. Indian planners realised that first of all, they have to build up the warfare logistics all along the Chinese Border – Roads, Airstrips etc. Plan – 2 was to develop missile strike capabilities against China; Plan – 3 was to develop Naval Strength; Plan 4 was to develop new divisions etc. All these have been gaining momentum in recent years; all were severely criticised in China – and even belittled. However, the fact remains that India has been beefing up its defences all along the Chinese Border for at least 5 – 8 years now. On top of this was our ICBM success: with the development of a missile that brought all of China in its range.
This is the military backdrop to the situation. China is aware of these developments; the news articles and the decrying of all such military moves by India is constantly derided in newspapers in China. Furthermore, as the below link states, there is the possibility that this is linked to Gwadar port near Karachi – which, apparently – as per the article – needs a link to China from Ladakh region…
Xtreme theory on China
The point is that this could be another cog in the military encirclement of India – or it could be just a case of China proving India’s vulnerability. In either case, it is a medieval misadventure – and has only served to isolate China even further
Politically, India has never trusted China since 1962. From that day onwards, we have always been wary. The fact of Chinese assistance to Pakistan in everything Military as well as diplomacy has been noted with some disquiet in India. This distance has been further exacerbated by Chinese claims – ridiculous claims – on Arunachal Pradesh; Visa Stapling for Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir; Blue Water Navy developments; military encirclement of India; open declaration by Chinese Premier that issues with India will take time etc etc. The icing on the cake was the most dangerous of them all – the Brahmaputra Dispute. All in all, this has all but driven a deep chasm in a relationship that was never healthy to start with.
Rest Assured; India – at least unofficially – designates China as the number one threat to its security. The only full scale war that can happen for India is with China;this too has been accepted (I tihnk) by Indian Policy makers. There can be no other reason for the Defence Minister’s Statement above. Pakistan does not have the wherewithal to wage a war. China, however – does. It is also far more powerful than India both militarily as well as economically. It has the ability, the veto power in the UN (no small factor, this one), the attitude and the reason to wage a war. This is also a fact. And as of now, we do not have the firepower in place in Ladakh – or anywhere on the Macmohan Line – to pull of any retaliatory moves. For that, we need time. And that is what explains the political reaction.
Sumdorong Chu incident – Arunachal Pradesh, 1986; Demchok during Kargil war 1999; Trig Heights 1999; Pangong Tso, 1999; Chantze 1999
The last 4 were all during the Kargil War. This fact alone is enough the raise the hackles for India. These intrusions are neither a new affair, nor will it be the last. They are extremely serious developments when seen in the backdrop given above. It is also established fact that PLA’s director of Armaments visited Islamabad during Kargil; Musharraf and Sharif both visited Beijing just before Kargil. These are all noteworthy incidents, and cannot be forgotten or ignored. Trust me, The Indian Armed Forces and the Political Establishment have not forgotten them either. General V. P. Malik has openly quoted in his book “We need a credible dissuasive posture in Ladakh till the LOC and Siachen dispute with Pakistan and the boundary question with China are fully resolved”
He has further noted – quite correctly – ” b) China’s aggressive and assertive policies in the Middle Kingdom, and even after attaining independence in 1949 c) Regular sale of military equipment to India’s immediate neighbourhood d) Close relations with Pakistan e) Rapid changes in international power equilibrium seldom take place without concomitant conflict and turbulence”
ADD ALL THE ABOVE
Add all of the above, and a picture begins to emerge. And that picture does not speak peace. China wants to dominate – and India will not be dominated; not even by the USA. China wants Indian land; and Indian waters..,. it is encircling India from all sides militarily.
This may not lead to war; in fact – it certainly wont. But war is increasingly becoming inevitable – unless good sense prevails on the Chinese side… which does not seem likely, basis the above.
To quote Shashi Tharoor: “Keeps India guessing about Chinese intentions; exposes the giant democracy’s vulnerabilities, and cuts a potential rival to size”
THE CURRENT SCENARIO
China is simply testing the waters;; pushing India hard. Just like the Visa row; it is wanting to keep the issue burning and volatile; keep India off-balance – and perhaps provoke a response. It could be seeing just how much pressure will India bear before retaliating. Will this lead to war? I dont think so. But how long will peace win out? Difficult to state.
If what the experts and the newspapers say on the Brahmaputra is anywhere near accurate- the I see big trouble… meaning War. I hope I am wrong…That one factor – coming on top of all of this – might just be the last straw on the camel’s back. Short of this, I dont see War. Not yet, anyway – not unless China attacks. On that, I am not hopeful; China, in my opinion – will attack someday. The facts above do not speak peace; China seems to be preparing for War with India. You do not militarily encircle a nation for peaceable reasons; you do not build up forces all along the border- massive buildup, by the way – for peace.
If there is War – it will be started by China. Not India – that is certain. At least, till the Brahmputra problem rears its head; short of that – India wont attack. As things stand today, War is inevitable. It is only a question of when. It will not happen from India – except as a response to a existential or equally serious invasive threat. My analysis predicts the War between 2015 – 2020. There will come a time when we will be ready on the MacMohan Line – as we have already begun preparing for the eventuality since the past few years. And at that time – if a disagreement crops up , as we have shown in Kargil – we will respond. That is assured. It may only be a Kargil style limited War – but a military stand-off is now assured.
I do not see good sense prevailing in China…
I hope I am wrong on this last paragraph,, and that peace prevails; that the experts who deny any war chances are right…