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India must change China’s mindset
8/12/2020 11:44:59 PM
Col Anil Bhat, VSM (Retd)

“A part of the “China dream” is the establishment of a “unified global system”, or empire, termed tianxia (“all under heaven” in Mandarin). Translating its enormous economic gains into coercive military power, China expects neighbouring nations to submit to its hegemony.”, stated former Naval Chief Admiral Arun Prakash in an article titled ‘India will Need to bring order, alacrity to crisis management’, widely published on June 25, 2020.
There seems no doubt that what transpired from early May, 2020, on the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) was part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) combo’s plan to be implemented taking advantage of the effects of the dirty and dangerous virus released from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, which reached 214 countries and territories and shattered economies all over.
Following Indian Army’s deadly response to Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) upping the ante at Nathu La and Cho La in Sikkim, in 1967, resulting in about four hundred of its soldiers killed and a convoy of vehicles and many bunkers destroyed, the Chinese decided to settle all breaches of the perception-based and disputed Sino-Indian border termed as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), by discussion and not resorting to the use of force/firearms. In fact, the Chinese very smartly got this clause of not using firearms included in the second agreement in1996 on “peace and tranquillity” along the LAC. The first agreement was 1993, the 3rd, 4th and 5th ones were in 2005, 2012 and 2014 respectively. Except for ambushing and killing four riflemen of India’s first and oldest paramilitary force, Assam Rifles at Tulung La in 1975, PLA steadfastly continued its intrusions/ incursions/transgressions/ “straying” across the LAC, for almost 53 years till May-June 2020, including large scale ones at Sumdurong Chu in 1986-87 and Dolkam in 2017, all of which were resolved by discussion and no use of firearms. If at all there was any confrontation or heated exchanges between Indian Army and PLA soldiers, they were confined to grappling/wrestling, or at the most, fisticuffs.
However, on May 05 and 09, 2020, PLA troops crossed the limit of the unarmed combat by using rods and stones resulting in about a hundred Indian personnel sustaining injuries. On June 15, 2020, at Galwan, PLA crossed another limit by using very deadly medieval barbaric weapons like iron rods studded with nails and rods tied with barbed wire tied and killed one Indian Army colonel and nineteen other ranks. This was soon followed by a revenge attack by Indian Army soldiers, who came with sharp- edged weapons and fiercely attacked the PLA troops snatching some of their weapons and eventually killing, including with bare hands, many more than twice the number of Indian troops killed. While still no firearms had been used, by killing Indian soldiers, PLA had violated all the past peace agreements.
According to a US News report of July 13, 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs told families of those who died in the Galwan Valley clash that they must forgo traditional burial ceremonies and cremate the soldiers’ remains and that any funeral services should be conducted remotely and not in person. Though the government has used the threat posed by the spread of the coronavirus as a pretext, the assessment concludes that the new rules are a part of a deliberate effort by Beijing to undermine public awareness and erase any enduring reminders of the violent clash.
The June 15 barbaric attack was because of Indian Army overseeing/verifying PLA’s disengagement, which was not being adhered to as agreed upon in the first Corps Commander level meeting at Moldo on June 06, 2020. What also emerged was PLA’s massive staging forward in many locations along the LAC. This was countered by Indian Army’s mirror deployment.
After many meetings, with the corps commander level ones lasting as long as 15 hours-thanks to the Chinese- and discussions between lesser level military commanders and diplomats, a process of PLA disengaging reportedly began but still remains incomplete as PLA is not agreeing to back off at Pangong Tso.
With over five decades of trust having become a serious casualty and knowing the history of the CCP-PLA combo’s hegemonic compulsions/ perception of the Chinese being destined to dominate the world, even if a full-fledged withdrawal is effected by PLA, there is no guarantee that the same forward deployment will not be tried again. If so, with all the strategic infrastructure developed on the Chinese side and the terrain, the time required for PLA to stage forward will be much less than that for Indian Army.
While PLA’s plans/intentions were implemented with bloody fatal effect in Galwan on June 15, PLA initiated non-fatal violence at Daulat Beg Oldie and Pangong Tso (all in Eastern Ladakh) and at Naku La in Sikkim between May 05 and 09, 2020, Chinese troops were seen carrying iron rods in their haversacks even up to ten days later in East Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh, although no violence was reported there. All these reports only point towards protocol about use of force being violated by PLA as part of a premeditated plan. Technically, firearms were not used, but “peace and tranquillity” was shattered by PLA.
India’s stand is very clear – status quo nte as in April 2010. While both Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s July 03 visit followed up by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit coinciding with Indian Army’s exercise including a parachute drop and movement of tanks, were also meant to send a message to the Chinese, New Delhi must always be mindf
WordSword Features
l of Beijing’s ambitious plans, deviousness and doggedness and expedite all measures to make good long-standing deficiencies/urgent operational requirements.
Lessons from the past must be learnt and factored into India’s diplomacy and defence planning meaningfully/effectively.
Even if PLA does get back to April 2020 status of deployment, it will have to be watched hawk-like, because PLA’s aim is to occupy all commanding heights and tri-junctions. The Army’s task of monitoring will be much more effective if Central strategic intelligence, including National Technical Research Organisation’s satellite intelligence is consistently shared with it. Incidents like losing twenty Indian Army braves on June 15 can possibly be avoided. And another important reason to keep the Army updated on PLA’s movements and locations is that it even if it disengages and de-escalates by reverting to its April 2020 deployment, the possibility of it repeating such a staging forward again cannot at all be ruled out.
It must be recalled as brought out by Lt Gen P.G. Kamath in his article, China Lies and India Believes: The Road Ahead “Look at Doklam Plateau; though we have not allowed them to build a road from Batang La to Gyemochen, Chinese have occupied the whole of the Bhutanese plateau of 89 sq km and have built an alternative road further east of the road that we had stopped. India can keep thumping its chest but the Chinese have stolen a march and are closer to the plains of India.” (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/china-lies-india-believes-road-ahead-lt-gen-p-g-kamath/)
The Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), under Ministry of Home Affairs, has recently been enhanced by forming two commands at Chandigarh and Guwahati under additional director generals for better operational functioning of about 35-38 battalions deployed along the LAC, from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.
Interacting with this writer, Lt Gen J.S. Bajwa (Retd), author of Modernisation of the PLA (Lancer) and some other officers who have served on the LAC advised that all ITBP battalions deployed in the active sectors of the LAC must be fully under operational control of the Army. It may be relevant to quote an excerpt of a letter in July 2020 to the President, PM, Defence Minister and Services Chiefs by 144 veterans: “Over the decades, a substantial portion of the Army has been continuously deployed in its secondary role on internal security and counter-insurgency duties, at the cost of availability of troops for the Army’s primary role of defence of territorial sovereignty. At the same time, large strength of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are deployed in border areas in an essentially military role. This anomalous reversal of roles and duties now demands rationalization for efficiency and effectiveness in both internal and external national security”.
In view of the CCP-PLA combo’s plans and aims mentioned, New Delhi must take serious note of its over seven decades of history replete with thousands of hegemonic attempts and lies and the weak/conciliatory stance of Nehru and the Congress party, and the meaningless agreements since Panchsheel till date. The only exceptions were Lal Bahadur Shastri’s assertiveness during the 1965 war against Pakistan and Indira Gandhi’s assertiveness in 1967 against China and in 1971 against Pakistan. New Delhi must now evolve an assertive policy to be followed consistently, repeat, assertively and consistently, both on terrain and table.
Having gobbled many of its former neighbours in the past and now having contaminated the world, it now posing a great threat to India’s integrity. China’s hegemonic greed is not only for India’s land but also for the sweet water rivers that flow on it, for making microprocessors. Iqbal Chand Malhotra in his article Smoking Mirrors: The illusion of the LAC, published in timesnownews.com, June 09, 2020, states, “For China, this water can only be harnessed from the Himalayas and the Karakorum’s rivers. It has invested around US$ 25 billion to build five dams on the Indus River in PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) with water storage reservoirs of over 225 km in length.”
It is high time the Chinese political and military leadership are made to realise that chronic hegemonism and doggedness in constantly trying to crawl and clutch Indian territories is not going to work anymore and that the LAC must be clarified.
While New Delhi has made a beginning in striking economically against China by banning over a hundred apps and cancelling contracts, public sentiment against Chinese goods has shot up. Apart from burning Xi Jinping’s posters, Indian shopkeepers refused to sell Chinese made Rakhis during Raksha Bandhan. The economic stakes must be raised as high as possible.
India must also become politically and diplomatically far more aggressive. It must take on China for grabbing Tibet, its illegal occupation of Indian territories so far, its suppression and torture of Uighurs and most of all, its irresponsible ‘experimentation’ and use of biological warfare.
On the LAC, New Delhi must shed any hangover of Nehruvian tendencies and be prepared to be not always reactive but effectively proactive also. The mountain corps must be fully equipped. If more light tanks and aircraft or any other weaponry are required, some readymade ones should be speed-purchased. For India’s very survival and progress, it is time to change its narrative and power on land, air and sea.
While Indian soldiers taught their Chinese counterparts a deadly lesson without firearms on the night of July 15-16, 2020, PLA will be well advised to desist from any more misadventures-without or with firearms.
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