Chinese checks: On dealing with border incursions by China

Source: This post is based on the article “ Chinese checks ” published in The Business Standard on 13th October 2021. 

Syllabus: GS3- Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas 

Relevance: Dealing with China

Synopsis: India urgently needs a fresh strategy for handling the broader dispute along the Sino-Indian border.

Introduction 

In June last year, clashes took place between India and China in the Galwan Valley, which resulted in fatalities on both sides. The Chinese have steadily encroached on Indian territory along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Despite some pullbacks, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)- Chinese Army controls more territory than it did before the intrusion.  

The recent failure of the corps commander-level talks on troop pullbacks in eastern Ladakh, suggests that a new strategy for handling the Sino-Indian border dispute is required. 

What steps has India taken to deal with Chinese border incursions? 

India’s strategy has been to talk tough, ban Chinese apps and investment, and increase military resources along the LAC.

Recently, India has increased the troops along the LAC by 40%. It also increased the artillery pieces and prepared Rafale fighter jets equipped with long-range missiles for any kind of future events that may arise. 

What is the future Chinese strategy? 

As per some reports, PLA is making fresh incursions into areas it had vacated in the Galwan Valley.

It is also attempting intrusion into Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

It is also upgrading communication equipment and roads, weaponry and logistics along the LAC, notably in the Galwan Valley — and have increased the number of patrol boats on its side of the Pangong Tso.

It also has three forward fighter bases in Tibet and that can cover the entire border.

Overall, PLA is augmenting its attack capabilities. China spends much more than India on such infrastructure and technologies. 

What is the way forward? 

Chinese border activity has increased and this demands a more robust response from India.

Past surveys of infrastructure and capabilities on the border have indicated that the Indian military does, in fact, have several strong points along its length and it can exploit them in the same way as China has done this past year and a half. China’s withdrawal from Pangong Tso, the only area it has completely vacated after last year’s incursion, was an example of the Indian army effectively leveraging its superior position in the region to force the issue. All of this, of course, needs investment.

That China outspends India by several orders of magnitude is well known. Pressures on the Budget from the pandemic have added to India’s constraints.

Engaging in constant negotiations is the most desirable solution to military conflict. But as China has shown, talking and carrying the proverbial big stick work better.

Note: Carrying the proverbial big stick means caution and non-aggression, backed up by the ability to carry out violent action if required.

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