The bravery and skill of the Bihar Regiment has transformed Indian military, diplomatic and political relationship with China. The battle at Galwan on the night of 15 June, has accomplished what dozens of rounds of negotiation and many political summit meetings could not.
In one night of primeval hand-to-hand combat, the sophistries and brute stone-walling of decades has been trashed. Our soldiers have unilaterally converted the Line of Actual Control (LAC), all 4,000 odd kilometres of it, into a hard border.
We now view the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC), not as a trading partner and sometime adversary, but a hostile neighbour. China’s malevolent intent cannot be ignored. Nothing more is ever going to be lost in translation.
India’s own global acceptance is rising. It may also soon be part of an enhanced G-7, even as permanent membership in the UNSC may have to wait till China is expelled for breaches of the UN Charter on multiple counts. Recently announced Russian support for India’s permanent membership in the UNSC is welcome.
On its own, India has a long to-do list. It must drop support for China’s One China Policy, recognise Taiwan as an independent country and establish full diplomatic relations with it. India, like the US, should declare for the independence of Tibet. India needs to support democracy in Hong Kong that was actually meant to be guaranteed for 50 years when Britain handed it over to China.
India must make common cause against Chinese belligerence with a host of countries around the South China Sea, Australia, Japan and the US. It must assert that international waterways cannot be taken over in line with the ICJ ruling.
For the long haul, India is better placed to protect its hard border, now increasingly served by roads and necessary infrastructure. It is also close to populated areas. China has to haul all its personnel and equipment from far away because a lot of the area on its side is empty high altitude desert.
Russia’s professed neutrality between China and India, despite a long standing defence pact with India, is disappointing. But as long as India buys Russian arms and enters into military joint ventures, we will have to live with it. Some of the collaboration, such as the joint development of the Brahmos missiles, has been highly advantageous.
But we need to move faster on new roads to alternate military joint venture and supply chains from countries such as South Korea, the US and France. This, even as we develop our own armaments industry.
We must speed up overt, reciprocal and closer defence ties with the Quad in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean. And offer closer defence cooperation bilaterally with the US. We cannot afford splendid isolation in the prevailing situation.
However, we can proceed covertly in some instances and piecemeal in others, to deflect reactionary subversion from India’s fifth column.
We are already, post 15 June, in the process of stopping and reversing all Chinese investments in India. Imports are being restricted as we seek to develop either our own sources or alternative supply chains.
The ambivalence is over. India will henceforth confront China militarily with firepower when threatened, including use of the Indian Air Force. To underline its resolve, India is proceeding urgently with border roads, rail and infrastructure development for rapid deployment. Chinese objections and protests are no longer a consideration. No future Chinese intrusion will go unpunished.
In all probability, a border clash in the Ladakh theatre could happen very soon and may even be desirable. China remains reluctant to withdraw as per the latest military disengagement talks post 15 June. China will have to demonstrate its fighting prowess. Can it, even now, be allowed to retreat unscathed? Its immense treachery and the future threat militate against letting it go scot-free.
India will not seek to restore thousands of kilometres of stolen territory in the Ladakh just yet. But it will reclaim PoK and Gilgit Baltistan at the first opportunity. This is necessary as a follow through and push back against the China-Pakistan axis. That China is active on a mission to addle most of India’s neighbours, is another good reason to deflate its ambitions.
Some long standing ideas can always be trundled out to serve. They can be included amongst reportage, analysis and commentary as the China-India-Pakistan war cloud builds. Some, including interested international observers, are casting it in terms of a pathway of escalation towards a nuclear holocaust. Could it actually be a clandestine show of support for Chinese aggression? Or is it casting a racial slur on all the dramatis personae? It is true that the flames and magma of Armageddon make for a terrifying image. But why the scaremongering when no one possesses a nuclear advantage?
A rich man does not court certain ruin. China is a nouveau riche nation. It has crackling new notes and brand new guns it has hardly ever fired in battle. When it periodically took on the Indians after 1962, or the Vietnamese in 1979, it was always the Chinese who lost.
Deng Xiaoping, the chain-smoking architect of China’s great rise to prosperity, never forgot the virtues of humility and patience. But Xi Jinping, a born-again Mao Zedong, wants nothing less than world domination. Perhaps, before it is too late, he should remember Mao murdered 30 million of his own people.
Xi Jinping’s China is at the crossroads of prosperity and imperialism. The initial salvos were unequal treaties with weak, insolvent countries, in return for territory when they could not pay for the infrastructure. Then it was expenditure on its own military, ramped up in competition with America. This is what ruined the USSR, but history seems to be repeating itself.
Then it was trade imbalances hugely against the very hands that feed, such as America and Western Europe. An elderly Nixon wondered if he had not created a Frankenstein monster.
And now it appears to be time to buy up assets and companies when their prices are beaten down due to the Wuhan virus. The territorial push into India, Taiwan, Nepal, the South China Sea, the Japanese islands, are all attempts to strike while the virus rages. But everywhere, Xi Jinping’s China is meeting with resistance. So why has it chosen this moment to clamp down on democracy and civil liberties in Hong Kong?
China will probably fail even before it gets started on its military adventures. The PLA, peopled by only sons of China’s One Child Policy, apparently cannot fight. This despite all the armaments it possesses. India may have exposed this fatal weakness already.
Besides, China is immensely isolated, with only Pakistan to fight from its corner. And Pakistan too has an army that has used terrorists to do its fighting and dying for it. Its officers stay well away from the front-lines, its pilots crash in panic, and its soldiers routinely abandon their posts.
Xi Jinping has mistaken surreptitious land grabs over the years as conquest. And now after the thrashing his forces received at Galwan, he has jeopardised even this past thievery. China has brought focus on thousands of kilometres stolen in Akshai Chin, parts of the Siachen glacier, the Karakoram Pass, and what has become the Karakoram Highway. Mao set the precedent by grabbing Tibet, nominally a Qing dynasty protectorate, that peacefully bordered India for centuries.
China, spoiling for a fight, has a lot of glass in its windows. It has built a great deal of impressive infrastructure that could vanish overnight.
The US, in all its military might, is ranged against President Xi Jinping’s unwarranted belligerence. Red China has territorial claims against 24 countries, even though it shares borders with just 14. It has defied America on trade matters to the point of collapse. Economic scores are being settled by other countries of the broad Western alliance as well. How long therefore before a military spark is lit?
Will Iran and Russia join in on China’s side? What will they gain by doing so? North Korea is already fighting shy.
Red China is teetering on the brink of the age old seduction that has destroyed empires. A well gained peace and prosperity is pawned for a pointless lust for more territory. Any power is soon over-extended doing this. Decline and fall is always the result.