The Reckoning Is Ought To Be Tough With China


The developments in world polity took to a storm when on August 14, 2020, United Arab Emirates(UAE) and Israel decided to normalise their relations 1 , with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) forcing Pakistan to repay its 1 billion USD loan and stopping oil supplies on deferred loan to it,  which Pakistan repaid after China provided with 1 billion USD 2 (on August 5, 020)  , all thus provided India a massive-relief which is engulfed with Pakistan and China, particularly after August 5, 2019, when PM Modi annulled Article 370 from JK&L of its special status.  This KSA reaction came after Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi signalled that Pakistan was to make a new bloc with Turkey, Iran, Malaysia outside the 57 member body called Organisation of Islamic Countries 3, as Pakistan had found that KSA and UAE were  not interested into raising the issue of Kashmir as both the nations have very heavily invested in India.    India, Israel, USA with its extended office KSA are in one bloc and Pakistan, Iran, China, Turkey is the other emerging bloc which is also supported by Russia.

China and US are having an uneasy relationship since the outbreak of COVID-19 in January 2020 and US and China are having an eyeball-to-eyeball in South China sea, where US is helped by India, Australia, Indonesia and Japan, while China and India, since May 2020 are engaged in Himalayas where China has made inroads and there is a now a greater chance of Pakistan and China engaging into a two-front war in the coming winters, and for which, India too is now firmly in the saddle as it has decided to take them head-on, as the talks, between China and India to resolve border disputes have as yet just failed.

India is preparing for a long haul with China and taking-on China’s belligerence with a strategy to revive an old path, which is a jeepable mud track so as to reach Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh. The Tribune on August 18, 2020 has discussed this story. ‘An ancient caravan trade route between Ladakh and Kashgar (now in Xinjiang, China) has been revived by India as an alternative route to access the vital Sub-Sector North (SSN) in Ladakh. The Karakoram pass, Depsang plains and the airfield at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) are part of the SSN. At present, these sensitive places can be accessed through the 255-km-long Darbuk-Shyok-DBO (DSDBO) road, which at several points is close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and thus exposed to military risk. From Ladakh’s Shyok village to Murgo (in Depsang), covering 127 km, the DSDBO road runs close to the LAC. The Galwan valley is on the same stretch. A 23-km tract of the DSDBO road from Darbuk to Shyok and 105-km stretch from Murgo to the DBO is relatively away from the LAC. The new road alignment starts from Sasoma, near the base of Siachen Glacier, and goes eastwards across the 17,800-foot-high Saser La and then descends at Gapsam near Murgo in Depsang plains. Here, the road will join the existing DSDBO road’ 4.  The next day on August 19, 2020, The Economic Times carried details as to how India is building a new road to Ladakh for troop movement without enemy observation 5  ( China and Pakistan). What however, comes as a surprise is that when India wants it outside the view of enemy what’s the need to get it published?

The efforts from India to meet to any misadventure from Pakistan or China or both, has compelled India to deploy its home-grown fighter jets Tejas,  as reported by SputnikNews on August 18, 2020,  ‘along the border with Pakistan and amid increased activities by China in Ladakh to deal with any activity by the adversary. The development came days after Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria visited a frontline air base in Western Air Command to review the operational preparedness of the force which is facing a severe shortage of fighter jets due to delayed procurement and the phasing out of ageing aircraft. “IAF Chief urged the air warriors to maintain the highest standards of readiness. He also appreciated their efforts in preserving IAFs combat potential during the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.” IAF spokesperson had said in a statement on 13 August (2020)’. India has been working to phase-out MiG-21 and MiG-27  fighter aircrafts from service. 6 China, is deploying every strategy to browbeat India and has put psy-war as a part of its strategy, which has taken Indians to wonder as to why PM Modi has been so reluctant to demonstrate Chinese perfidy, particularly, so when ministry of defense, uploaded a document, of Chinese incursion and later deleted it 7 , obviously, it was to have left PM Modi red-faced, as he had personally denied any Chinese intrusion on June 20, 2020 8 , five-days hence when India had lost 20 soldiers in Galwan valley fighting to Chinese on June 15, 2020. The defense ministry is tight-lipped on it. This ha come when China is engaged into a barrage of official statements blaming India for the whole mess 9.

As the time buys it seem that there is a sense of uneasiness in the Indian side, as since June 2020, there have been five-rounds of talks and have not been able to put back the status-quo ante which was in May 2020, ‘This outcome became decidedly apparent after India’s newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, along with his top commanders, told an all-party parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week that the military de-escalation process with China would be a long drawn out matter. In military and security circles, General Rawat’s statement has been considered as (a) sign of the Indian military’s inability to effectively ‘coerce’ nuclear-rival China into vacating occupied territory along the LAC which India perceives as its own – a line which, ironically, China too has endorsed for decades,’ writes Rahul Bedi in The Wire 10  on August 17, 2020.  This leaves nothing less to imagine that the reckoning with China is now ought to be tough.

How India is to face China in the coming harsh winters when one of its renowned defense analyst Praveen Sawhney has debunked the whole story of India trying to make a pathway through the ancient route, he on his twitter on August 19, 2020 conveyed that ‘ Saser la – Margo- Burtse route was always there – takes nearly 25 days for soldiers to trudge on foot & road ferry for SSN. Is unviable in ops. So, what is story with byline all about – except doing public relations! Reality PLA has blocked access to SSN!’ Amid this, a news has arrived (on August 17, 2020) that China is fast laying optic fiber in Ladakh which would ‘mean that China is in a mood to prolong the border dispute. China wants the border dispute to last until the winter, causing problems for Indian soldiers to stick to the glaciers’ 11 . Praveeb Sawhney accorded the development as ‘the laying of fiber optic cables in occupied India territory in Ladakh is much more than permanent land grab. These are early signs of PLA’s Intelligenized or Algorithm warfare in Tibet Autonomous Region’ 12  while what he find as Indian media ‘still harping on old news of intelligence failure and whether PLA has still occupied Indian territory in Ladakh’ on his twitter  13 on August 18, 2020.   Let’s see what the coming winter unfolds

The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner. He is also a lawyer based in Lucknow.

















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