China Will Continue To Make Covert Advances In Buffer Zones

Nalini Ranjan Mohanty, a political commentator, says both China and India will remain hostile to one another but a full-scale war is unlikely in the foreseeable future

Chinese incursions in the Indian territory, in both Ladakh and Arunachal, constitute a serious threat to India’s security. China under Xi Jinping — especially since his second term — seems to have prioritised its geo-strategic concerns over its aspirations for economic development.

Xi Jinping fancies himself today as the leader of a superpower — both in terms of economic and military strength. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a vacuum; the world had become unipolar. Xi wanted China to step into the shoes of the Soviet Union. It was very well placed, in fact better-placed, to do so. The Soviet Union had emerged as a powerful nation militarily; it was never an economic powerhouse that China is today.

China has territorial disputes with several of its neighbours (it shares borders with 14 countries) and it has been quite assertive to ensure that it takes back the areas which were supposedly under its control at some point of history. That is why China has been flexing its muscles.

It has territorial claims, both in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. But it does not want — at least not so far —to wage a full-scale war since that would have enormous economic implications which it can ill-afford at this stage. The West is increasingly becoming wary about its Chinese engagement— both in terms of trade and investment. The US has openly positioned itself against China. China’s trademark policy, therefore, has been to make incremental push: to make incursions by two steps, then retreat by one step, and, negotiate. This is evident in both Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh.

It goes like this: Indian and Chinese forces are within their command area — the area falling within the Line of Actual Control. A buffer zone separates both the armies— an expanse of land which neither party should intrude into. Whenever Indian forces are lulled into complacency due to a prolonged clash-free period, the People’s Liberation Army pushes many miles into the buffer zone, the so-called No Man’s Land.

India sees this as a betrayal. That is what happened in the Galwan conflict. Indian launched a counter attack. Both sides then decided to disengage and step back. However, it has been established beyond doubt that the complete status quo ante could not be restored; China managed to keep in possession some areas that earlier came under the buffer zone.

Those areas were earlier not directly under India’s possession. To that extent, it is technically right that no Indian territory has been occupied by China in recent years. But that does not take away the fact that our big neighbour has intruded into the buffer zone at our expense!

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When India consolidated its position in the Ladakh sector, China secretively moved the theatre of action to the eastern sector. India was somewhat unprepared for this assault, though it effectively countered the Chinese move. It is most likely that China would find it difficult to make further incursions in the near future, given the large-scale mobilisation on the Indian side.

Besides, the only way for China to make more territorial gains is by waging a full-scale war which is unlikely. China has superior capability compared to India in all aspects of conventional and digital warfare but India is no easy pushover. China is currently going through a severe economic churning —prolonged lockdowns, daily deaths, and street protests — and it will not risk a full-blown war.

Moreover, in geo-strategic terms, Taiwan is of much greater significance than Arunachal and slices of Ladakh for China. If China ever decides to wage a full-fledged war, then its first priority would be to take control of Taiwan. But that would bring China in direct conflict with the US which has enormous business interests in Taiwan.

So no one expects China to begin a Third World War. That would spell disaster for the world; but it would be ruinous for China.

However, it is quite evident that China would making covert advances to realise its territorial dreams. India must remain constantly on the alert mode, failing which China will acquire another slice of India’s territory through the well-rehearsed advance-retreat-disengage mode.

India is officially tight-lipped about the LAC violations by China because the central government in Delhi thinks that would show it in poor light. The ruling BJP believes in muscular nationalism. But it is aware of the fact that they are unequal to the challenge of rebutting China’s incursion with ‘en eye for an eye’ principle. That is why they have gone by the maxim: “Discretion is the better part of valour.” Their standard response is somewhat like this: “China intends to occupy our land but we have successfully rebuffed them.”

This explanation suits China as well. It is secretly and incrementally changing the LAC. China justifies its massive deployment of forces and infrastructure-building on India’s border keeping in view the threat emanating from the joint military exercises between India, the US and other members of the Quad countries. That is a lame excuse, but that is the geopolitical reality today. Undoubtedly, therefore, India and China will remain at the loggerheads in the foreseeable future.

(The narrator is Director, Jagran Institute of Management and Mass Communication, Noida)

As told to Amit Sengupta

Jaishankar about China LAC

China Has Unilaterally Tried To Change LAC: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar on Monday lambasted China for trying to unilaterally change the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

In an interview with the Austrian ZIB2 podcast, a daily news magazine of ORF television, Jaishankar said, “We had an agreement not to unilaterally change the LAC, which they have tried to unilaterally do. So there is, I think, an issue, a perception that we have which derives directly from our experiences.”
The Galwan Valley and Pangong Lake in the west of the LAC, have hosted flashpoints in recent years. In the east Tawang was the site of the latest India-China scuffle.

“I think there’s a larger concern based on our experiences. The concern is that we had agreements with China not to amass forces in our border areas, and they have not observed those agreements, which is why we have the currently tense situation that we do,” he said.

Recently, India and China held the 17th Round of Corps Commander Level Meeting at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side on December 20 and agreed to maintain security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector.

Speaking about China trying to change the status quo, he said that China may blame India for not following the agreements, however, the satellite pictures could clearly show who was at the fault.

“Now, where else the status quo may change or not change? I would hesitate as a foreign minister to predict publicly. I may have my own views and assessments, but I certainly can share my experience. And my experience is that written agreements were not observed and that we have seen levels of military pressure, which, in our view, has no justification. China would say the opposite. They would say that India had not obeyed different agreements. But obviously, no, I think it’s difficult for China to say that. For this reason, the record is very clear, because today there’s a lot of transparency. You have satellite pictures. If you see who moved the forces to the border areas first, I think the record is very clear. So it’s very difficult for China to say what you suggested they could,” said Jaishankar.

Commenting on India which is likely to overtake China as the most populous country, and its place in world politics, Jaishankar said, “India will probably overtake China as the world’s most populous country within this year. Is this fact of any political significance to India, or is it just a mere statistic? You know, we’ll know that when we reach there, won’t we? Because we have never used numbers in that manner. Maybe other countries have. I would still say it is a statistic to a large extent,” to ZIB2.

He also highlighted the need for reforms in the United Nations, saying that the world’s most populous country is not among the permanent members of the Security Council.

“What does it say about the state of the UN? If that is the case? So it’s both a yes and a no. It’s partly a statistic, but I think it’s a statistic that means a lot. For several years, you have called for a permanent seat on the Security Council as if Brazil as Japan, or Germany. How long will it take, from your point of view, till this reform of the Council will actually become reality? Well, ideally, we’d like it yesterday, of course, but the problem, I think, is that those who are today enjoying the benefits of permanent membership clearly are not in a hurry to see the reform. I think it’s a very short-sighted view, in my opinion, because at the end of the day, the credibility of the UN, and frankly, their own interests and effectiveness, is at stake. So my sense is it will take some time, hopefully not too much time,” said Jaishankar.

He also underscored that the UN is not represented evenly, he said, “I can see a growing body of opinion among UN members who believe that there must be change. It’s not just us. You have entire Africa, entire Latin America left out developing countries vastly underrepresented, I think, the state of the world. This was an organization invented in 1945. It’s 2023. And when you would have to guess for a year when this will happen, what would it be? No, I wouldn’t guess, because I know the complexities of this process. It’s a tough one. I would be honest with you. It’s a tough one. But I don’t think we should give up because it’s a tough one. On the contrary, because it’s a tough one, we should actually up the ante, increase the feeling in bad parts of the world that this reform is essential.” (ANI)

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ITBP Guards Indo-China Border

ITBP Guards Indo-China Border, None Can Take An Inch: Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday asserted that he is never worried about the India-China border as he knows that the ITBP personnel is guarding the borders there and “because of this, no one can occupy even an inch of India’s land”.

Shah was speaking at the inauguration of newly constructed buildings of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) here in Karnataka’s Devanhalli region and laying the foundation stone for a Central Detective Training Institute (CDTI) of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D).
In his address, the Home Minister lauded the Himveers of ITBP for their dedicated service to the nation and said the government has been undertaking all possible steps to make the service conditions of the jawans better.

He said that ITBP serves in very difficult conditions and the nation knows the jawans as ‘Himveers’.

“The ITBP has been doing yeomen service to the Nation by keeping the toughest borders on the Himalayas safe in inhospitable conditions,” said the Home Minister.

“People have bestowed ITBP jawans the title of ‘Himveer’ which is bigger than Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan.”

Shah said: “No one can occupy even an inch of India’s land as he knows that the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel are guarding the frontiers.”

His remarks came days after the December 9 clashes along the Line of Actual Control between the Indian and Chinese forces at the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh.

Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines, Prahlad Joshi; Chief Minister of Karnataka, Vasavraj Bommai; Home Minister of Karnataka, Araga Jnanendra; Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education Minister, Karnataka, K Sudhakar; DG ITBP Anish Dayal Singh; and DG BPR&D, Balaji Srivastava, were also present on the occasion.

Shah’s remarks came days after the recent clash near Yangtse along the LAC in the sensitive sector took place after the over 30-month border standoff between the two sides in eastern Ladakh.

“On December 9, PLA troops contacted the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tawang Sector which was contested by own (Indian) troops in a firm and resolute manner. This face-off led to minor injuries to few personnel from both sides,” the Indian Army had said in a statement earlier this month.

“Both sides immediately disengaged from the area. As a follow up of the incident, own (Indian) commander in the area held a flag meeting with his counterpart to discuss the issue in accordance with structured mechanisms to restore peace and tranquillity,” it had said.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told in parliament that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops tried to transgress the LAC in the Yangtse area of Tawang Sector in Arunachal Pradesh and unilaterally change the status quo but they went back to their locations due to timely intervention of Indian military commanders.

Giving a statement in the House, the Defence Minister had also assured the Upper House that “our forces are committed to protecting our territorial integrity and will continue to thwart any attempt made on it”. (ANI)

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Infra Development At Full Swing Near LAC | Lokmarg

Infra Development At Full Swing Near LAC

For countering Chinese aggression on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Union government is carrying out infrastructure development in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh.

The chief engineer of ‘Project Vartak’, Brig Raman Kumar told ANI that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is developing and maintaining all road networks in the key border areas of western Assam and western Arunachal Pradesh.
“We have national highways, single-lane roads, double-lane roads, and other types of roads as well. We want to connect even the far-flung areas of the Tawang district and contribute to the socio-economic development of this area,” he said.

He further informed that two tunnels — the Sela tunnel and the Nechipu tunnel — are under construction as the vehicular movement becomes difficult due to heavy snowfall during winter.

“The Sela tunnel is under construction and is 400 meters below Sela pass. Once the tunnel is completed, people will be able to pass through it even in winter. We are also working on the Nechipu tunnel, near the Nechipu pass. Once they are completed, both military, as well as civilian vehicular movement, would be a lot more smooth. It will boost not just infrastructure in the area but tourism as well,” he further said.

Apart from road connectivity and other infrastructure development works, the government is working to strengthen mobile connectivity in Tawang and other bordering areas of Arunachal Pradesh.

More mobile towers have been installed in Tawang and other border areas of the Tawang district, along the LAC.

On internet connectivity, a resident said, “The mobile and internet connectivity has improved but still it is not up to the mark. There are a lot of disturbances.”

“If we compare from before, the connectivity has improved a lot. Earlier, we were not able to use the internet but now we can even use Facebook and WhatsApp. The government has worked very well in these areas,” another resident said.

On December 13, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Rajya Sabha that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops tried to transgress the Line of Actual Control in the Yangtse area of Tawang Sector in Arunachal Pradesh and unilaterally change the status quo but they were forced to retreat to their positions due to the timely intervention of Indian troops.

The Defence Minister assured the Upper House that “our forces are committed to protecting our territorial integrity and will continue to thwart any attempt made to alter the status quo”. (ANI)

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Oppn Leaders Meet At Kharge Office

Oppn Leaders Meet At Kharge Office Ahead Of Parl Session

Ahead of the beginning of the day’s proceedings in Parliament, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday convened a meeting with floor leaders of opposition parties to discuss the December 9 faceoff between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal’s Tawang sector.

On Tuesday, both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were rocked by the issue with the Opposition staging a walkout after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the Tawang clash.
“A total of 17 parties attended today’s meeting and decided to raise the issue for discussion if not allowed it has been decided that parties will walk out from the house,” a leader who participated in the meeting told ANI.

The Opposition, the participant said, has also decided that if a discussion is not allowed, they will boycott the House.

The meeting was held in Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s chambers to plan the Opposition strategy on India -China tussle and other issues in the House.

Kharge on Tuesday said that the opposition staged the walkout as Singh did not give a clarification on his statement in Parliament on the reports of clashes between the Indian Army and Chinese troops.

Speaking in both Houses separately, the Defence Minister informed that the “Indian Army bravely stopped the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) PLA troops from encroaching on Indian territory, and forced them to withdraw to their posts”.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary meeting also took place in the Parliament Library building today in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Singh and National BJP president JP Nadda were also present at the meeting.

The BJP MPs gave a rousing reception to PM Modi and also congratulated the BJP state president of Gujarat CR Paatil for the historic win in the western state.

The Winter Session of the Parliament began on December 7 and will have 17 working days. (ANI)

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Indian Army china

Amid Chinese buildup, Indian Army Built Infra For 450 Tanks, 22,000 Additional Troops

Amid reports of Chinese buildup across the Line of Actual Control, the Indian Army has built infrastructure for housing 450 tanks and over 22,000 troops in the Eastern Ladakh sector opposite China, defence sources said.

The sources said that to counter the Chinese aggressive movements in the Pangong Tso lake which is both in India and China, the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineer has inducted new Landing Crafts in both Eastern Ladakh which has given a huge impetus to the patrolling capabilities and induction in men and material. The assault craft can carry 35 troops or one keeps with 12 men.
“Habitat and technical storage to include assets for 22,000 troops and approximately 450 A vehicles/guns have been constructed in the last two years. Focus has now shifted to undertake the construction of Permanent defences and infrastructure to improve defence preparedness in extant working season apart from completion of ongoing projects,” defence sources said here.

Speaking about the permanent defences being built along the borders, Indian Army’s Engineer in Chief Lt Gen Harpal Singh said: “3D-printed permanent defences have been constructed for the first time by Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers in the desert sector. These defences were trial tested against a range of weapons from small arms to the main gun of T90 tank.”

He added that such defences are able to withstand blasts, can be erected within 36-48 hours, and can be relocated from one place to another.

“With this, trial for similar permanent defences have also been carried out at eastern Ladakh and found to be useful,” he said.

Highlighting the infrastructure development being done by the Border Roads Organisation along the China border, defence sources said that presently nine tunnels which include a “2.535 Km long Sela tunnel, which will be the highest bi-lane tunnel in the world once completed. 11 more tunnels are also under planning.”

“The BRO has been entrusted with the task of constructing one of India’s highest airfields at Nyoma which is very close to the China border and will boost Indian capabilities there,” they said. (ANI)

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Reduction In Chinese At LAC

No Significant Reduction In Chinese At LAC: Gen Pande

The situation in eastern Ladakh is stable but unpredictable and in spite of the onset of winter, there is no significant reduction Chinese army’s force levels on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Army Chief General Manoj Pande said on Saturday.

The Army Chief was speaking at the ‘Chanakya Dialogues’ here in the national capital on the subject ‘Arming the Army-Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
Replying to a question of Major Gaurav Arya (retd) during a ‘fireside chat’ on the situation in Eastern Ladakh, General Manoj Pande said “situation is stable but unpredictable”.

“You are aware of the talks on the political, diplomatic, and military level which are going on between the two sides. Because of these talks, we have been able to find a resolution in five of the seven friction points which were on the table. And it is for the next two friction points, on that we are trying to find resolution,” Gen Pande said.

As far as China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) force levels are concerned, “there has been no significant reduction”, he said.

The Army Chief referred to the meeting of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) held last month in which the two sides agreed to continue discussions through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the remaining issues along the LAC and agreed to hold the 17th round of talks between senior military commanders at an early date.

“We are looking at a date for the 17th round of talks,” he said.

In terms of infrastructure development, General Pande said “that is going on unabated”. “We have the infrastructure in terms of road and helipad. This helps forces to improve their ability and move them from one sector to other”.

The Army Chief said the force’s transition to the winter posture is underway but “we have also made sure that we have adequate forces to deal with any contingency”.

He also said that the Army is also undertaking many transformational initiatives essentially to make it more modern and to be able to meet contemporary and future challenges of the battlefield.

Gen Pande said these transformational initiatives span across different domains and have been largely taken for the purpose to increase the efficiency of the Army, enhance effectiveness and find dominance.

The Army Chief said the focus is being laid on restructuring, optimization, modernization and transformational roadmap and that “our operational preparedness levels along the border are in no way diluted”.

Answering a query related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Army Chief said the message is clear that the country cannot rely on foreign sources only and that “it is our strategic necessity to develop our own capacity, become self-reliant, self-dependent and atmanirbhar.” (ANI)

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