Interview with Rediff News on India-China

[he Indian Army deploying M-777 ultra-light howitzers i Tawang District]

National security expert Bharat Karnad, emeritus professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research is not surprised at the Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat’s comments on the precarious security situation on both our northern and eastern borders.

Prof. Karnad spoke out to Rediff.com‘s Senior Contributor Rashme Sehgal about how the Chinese have now turned their focus towards our eastern border.

The first of a two-part interview:

Why has General Rawat stepped into troubled waters by contradicting the US department of defence report highlighting that China is building a 100 house civilian village in Arunachal Pradesh?

Apparently, General Rawat is unable to resist his urge to rise to every media bait, rather than refer the question, as he should have done, to the MEA which articulates the country’s responses on all external-related issues.

ISRO satellites would have confirmed to our military intelligence wing by now whether this construction has taken place on the ground?
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday that India had taken note of the DOD report and that this was not unexpected since China had undertake similar construction activities.
Even if this construction is taking place to accommodate their military, this is akin to a warning signal for us.

Yes, Indian satellites have enough resolution to identify encroachments by the Chinese even in mountainous areas and, over time, to pinpoint the structures that have come up.

Such information would have been available to the Defence Image Processing and Analysis Centre (DIPAC) and hence to the military, defence ministry, MEA and the rest of the government as soon as the first ingress was made by the PLA many years back.

This much is evident from the Pentagon report’s mentioning that ‘these infrastructure development efforts’ had occasioned ‘consternation’ in the Indian government, and the subsequent MEA statement that such illegal buildup by China has been ongoing for several ‘decades’ which, in fact, is a damning indictment of the government as much as of the army, and the Indian military, generally.

This is not the first time this has happened. We were witness to the strange drama where Prime Minister Modi said on June 19, 2020 that there ‘is and has been no intrusion by the Chinese’ which contradicted the press note issued by the MEA on June 17 after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the Chinese had crossed the LAC and erected a structure there?

This is obviously a case — all too frequent in the Government of India, of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, and the brain of this entire organism — the PM and the PMO, not being sure what the immediate response and the longer term policy should be and therefore unable to coordinate positions taken by the PM, MEA, and the armed services.

The PLA occupies 1,000 square kilometres of our land.
We appear to have agreed to their terms in Hot Springs and the Depsang Plains.
What effect will this have on our army commanders when they go for talks with their Chinese counterparts on this contentious issue?

India may have agreed to keep talking and, presumably, negotiating with the Chinese for the restoration of the status quo ante, which Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has repeatedly said is the prerequisite for return of normalcy to bilateral relations.

Except, by withdrawing from the Kailash Range heights held by the Special Frontier Force units in return for minor pullback by the PLA from terrain features Fingers’ 3 and 4 on the Pangong Tso, India not only lost the army several important vantage points, but the Modi government the negotiating leverage to obtain the PLA’s withdrawal from the Y-Junction on the Depsang Plains.

And, it has permanently unsettled India’s negotiating strategy, assuming there is one, by accepting, ipso facto, the Chinese annexation of the area proximal to the Karakorum Pass of national security interest to India.

What will the repercussions of this be for India given that there are 23 such ‘areas of differing perception’, be along the entire length of the India-China boundary stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh to the east?

Why wouldn’t so strategically-minded an adversary, such as China, not militarily exploit to the maximum Indian timidity, stupidity, and cupidity all along the LAC and legitimate, as it has done so often in the past, the fait accompli of incremental territorial grabs which, by the way, is its strategy and policy as implemented on the ground?

Already, after 13 rounds of talks, it appears as though India has conceded Hot Springs and the Depsang Plains to China, so it should come as no surprise that the Chinese are now asserting themselves in the Eastern Sector?

Having secured their western flank by first pushing and then freezing the Indian forward line in Ladakh, the PLA are now begining to concentrate their attention on Arunachal Pradesh they call ‘South Tibet’ to acquire which is Xi Jinping’s dream end-state.

https://www.rediff.com/news/interview/bharat-karnad-pla-is-now-concentrating-on-arunachal-pradesh/20211115.htm

——————–

Interview, Part Two:

Why Xi Is In A Hurry About Arunachal Pradesh

November 17, 2021, Rediff News,  

‘Xi is keen that the remaining three territories still outside the Chinese ambit — Taiwan, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Senkaku Islands in the East Sea — be absorbed by the Communist regime by the time the centenary of the revolution rolls around in 2049.’

  • General Rawat made a very strange statement at the Times Now Summit where he has said, ‘Locals (in Kashmir) are giving information about terrorists. Now they are saying they will lynch the terrorists which is a very positive sign that is coming in. If there is a terrorist operating in your area, why should you not lynch him?’

Don’t confuse two separate issues. If the locals, suffering from collateral damage of anti-terrorist actions by the army and state police are fatigued enough to be driven to ‘lynch’ a terrorist in their area, that is their business and, in a sense, not preventable.

Had General Rawat advocated open lynching of such miscreants, then that would be an objectionable thing for the CDS (Chief of Defence Staff) to do. But that is not what Rawat said.

India and the US already have a military intelligence sharing agreement. How successful has this proved in the past?

The intelligence-sharing arrangement has been there for some twenty years now.

The trouble is that while the US secures ‘raw intelligence’ from us, what we get in return is ‘processed’ intelligence that is run throuh several filters by the US agencies keeping in mind American national interests and policy vis a vis, say, China and Pakistan, before it is passed on to Indian intelligence.

This is neither particularly helpful nor equitable.

For instance, the US government had prior information about the 2008 seaborne strike on Mumbai but gave no inkling of it to New Delhi.

Rahul Gandhi tweeted that ‘our national security is unpardonably compromised because the government has no strategy.

It is natural for Opposition leaders to make hay while the sun of misreading China and the attendant policy discomfiture shines on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

With Xi Jinping set to remain in power for life, will we see an increase in the aggressive policies being pursued by China?

Xi has just had the Communist party plenum declare him ‘the helmsman’.

The last beneficiary of this title was Deng Xiaoping, who singlehandedly guided China into becoming an economic and trading powerhouse and the fairly wealthy country that it is now.

Xi, it turns out, is only a wannabe Deng, but without any of the foresight shown by that genuinely great Chinese leader in realising for China its supposed old imperium.

Xi is keen that the remaining three territories still outside the Chinese ambit — Taiwan, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Senkaku Islands in the East Sea — be absorbed by the Communist regime by the time the centenary of the revolution rolls around in 2049.

https://www.rediff.com/news/interview/why-xi-is-in-a-hurry-about-arunachal-pradesh/20211117.htm

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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24 Responses to Interview with Rediff News on India-China

  1. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Wonderful interview Mr Karnad. after the recent xi-bidden meeting , in exchange of cheap Chinese goods will Bidden allow a renegotiation of the status of Taiwan in favor of China? What do you think?

      • DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

        This below article tells us that the general Taiwanese are not ready to fight back even if an invasion comes from China.

        This should be seen alongside the fact that the Taiwanese have the lowest birthrate in Asia.

        It will be increasingly a “lao ren de guo” i.e. “old man country” which may be by 2050 comes to accept their fate as part of a mainland for proper caregiving for the old people.

        https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/11/16/for-taiwanese-the-threat-of-a-chinese-invasion-is-part-of-life

        Currently the US is in dire need of the cheap Chinese goods to tame the inflation resulting out of Mr Biden’s COVID subsidies so that Mr Biden and other democrats can keep the senate in 2022.

        The Chinese would be demanding eventual “One country two systems” future for Taiwan.

        The US does not have much to refuse this. There are already powerful voices coming out of the US in particular those from the Wall Street who wants a deal like that.

        This is my summary of the long-term overall situation.

        I would love my readers to come with their views.

  2. Amit says:

    Professor,
    I have watched several Indian Generals on YouTube who say that India can counter intrude China along many points along the LAC if it wants. India has boosted its logistics in the last 17 months along the LAC. What would you think is the probability that India counter intrudes in the next few months to create leverage to get back to status quo in Depsang and Hot Springs? Or would you surmise that India is mostly talk and continues on the path of fruitless negotiations?

    • Amit@ — The Generals are right; counter-intrusion is doable because neither side is strong on every point along the border. That said, I doubt whether the Indian government has the guts to risk the PLA escalating in response.

      • Deepak says:

        Sir,
        Expecting guts from Modi is foolish I believe. 1 year street anarchy by Jats (both Hindu and Sikh) made Modi repeal 3 farm laws which he believed were game changer reform. Muslim anarchists made the government stop the implementation of CAA. Even a small neighbor, Bhutan, completely dependent on India is daring and backstabbing India under Modi. Showman Modi abandoned own supporters and ran away from the field like a coward post Bengal election defeat when TMC goons attacked his supporters and voters. He has not uttered a single word against Mamta when as a constitutional duty he should have imposed presidential rule for state-sponsored political terrorism. List of blunders and surrenders of Modi govt is too long to list here.

  3. ritik says:

    Professor,

    What about non-kinetic operations? What are our options if they take out an electricity grid (Mumbai) again or a cyber attack on industrials?

    Do we have a counter-offensive? If not, how do we deter them?

  4. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Domestically Sikhs of Punjab and Jats of Western U.P. made a laughing stock of the so called strongman of India through their so called farmers agitation.

    Internationally China has proved the cowardice of Modi establishment.

    https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/live-updates-pm-modi-announces-repeal-of-3-contentious-farm-laws-2616729

    He must be busy planning a ‘furgical’ strike somewhere in the forests of Arunachal Pradesh in cohorts with his buddy, the Crook Bond of India. Election season is here.

    In a statement in Parliament a year ago, a BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh had commented on the encroachment by China. Tapir Gao said in the Lok Sabha: “I want to tell media houses in the country that there is no coverage of the extent to which China has captured Indian Territory (in Arunachal Pradesh).”

    • DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

      @Gaurav Tyagi

      What role this ongoing Khalistan referendum did play in this recent decision by our PM to withdraw the farm bills ?

      I would love your views.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Debanjan Banerjee- Khalistan referendum or not. The movement is insignificant. A few NRI Sikhs keep on making noise over Khalistan to stay in the limelight.

        I got a very interesting insight from a friend of mine. He said that the main reason Modi withdrew the farm bill was because a couple of very close associates of Modi scared him. They told Modi that Sikhs are planning his assassination.

  5. Sankar says:

    ‘This is new and powerful India’: Rajnath’s strong message to Pakistan, China
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/87817399.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

    Is Modi Raj to be taken seriously? I guess, Rajnath is doing the dirty job for Modi to take cover in facing their captive domestic audience. The farmers may have given them a body blow for the next election. The question is how low can the Indian nation sink on the international stage in present times.

    • Amit says:

      @Sankar, I normally discount anything politicians say, especially ruling politicians, about the state of affairs in India. Same thing with opposition politicians. They are always playing a game. What matters is outcomes on key issues. On this front, India is neither doing great nor doing badly. For example, Mr. Singh claims that India is already importing only 35% and makes 65% in India.

      But many Generals/ Senior Officers, who know the reality have said that if India first reduces from 70% imported content to 50% in the next five years it will be a good achievement. And then go down to 20-30% over the long term, as no country can achieve 100% indigenisation. I think That’s closer to the reality. But it’s also a fact that indigenisation is happening.

      Who cares for Rajnath Singh says – that is a political message for those who are ignorant of what’s really happening. Also, India’s stock on the international stage is increasing, not decreasing. Propaganda by Western and Chinese media notwithstanding.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Amit- India’s stock on the international stage is increasing.
        “Dill ko behlaanaeyy kaeyy liyee yeahh khayyall achaa haii”

      • Sankar says:

        @Amit: I refer to the following statement of Rajnath in that link:
        “Singh said he must make it clear that if there is an attempt in the world to “occupy even an inch of our land, India will give a fitting reply to it”. ”
        This concedes that China has not built a village, as per the Pentagon report, within India’s Arunachal, otherwise there is going to be a military action which is not the case.
        In this particular context, I will take the statement very seriously as India is acceding to the Chinese land grab by stealth without a shot being fired. In Bangkok’s news media some days ago there was a report which clearly boosted India as standing up to China in the Himalayas. Rajnath as the Indian defence minister dispels that view of India on the international stage and paints India as a spineless nation. This is a bad omen for Indian foreign policy and military morale.

    • Deepak says:

      @Sankar,so called farmer agitation was basically a jat agitation(both hindu and sikhs) supported by khalistanis,urban naxals,opposition parties etc.It has exposed impotent leadership of Modi further who does not do any ground work before bringing important reforms and also lacks guts to handle blackmailers,anarchists,jihadis,political opponents like Mamta who dares him.

      See the reaction of Modi propaganda machinery which shields every weakness/defeat/cowardice with some stupid explanations and show this as some moral victory.
      As per them Republic day violence inaction was a master stroke,repeal of 3 farm laws is a tactile retreat,inaction during Bengal post poll violence was respecting the democracy,CAA protest and Delhi riots exposed jihadis. This list of utter incompetence and cowardice of this Modi govt is too many to list here.

      This is a bloody blow to strongman image of Modi which is on terminal decline day by day but it will not change the outcome of 2024 election as good for nothing opposition is in disarray failing to capitalize on blunders of Modi Govt and Retard Raga is going to be again Trump card of failed Modi in 2024.

      • Sankar says:

        @Deepak: I agree with all your stand albeit in my reading there was a hidden agenda in the farmers bill for the corporatization of the farming sector. This meant in the future the Gujju “-ani”s would take control of India’s farmlands and the real farmers would be reduced to the level of workers there. This was unacceptable to India’s huge village community. Hence, there was a genuine movement to block the bill. Modi has pulled back from the brink at the right moment, there was no chance he would have his way, the nation would have been ripped apart had Modi gone any further. In my reading even RSS must have warned Modi of the impending disaster. No doubt the Khalistanis and others were taking advantage of the situation. Modi will gradually realize that India is fundamentally a democracy, his bullying tactics cannot work on every issue. What I am concerned about is that there could be a protest vote en masse across India to dislodge Modi from power, and that could bring back Rahul Gandhi as the default.

      • Deepak says:

        @Sankar,agree with you corporatization of the farming sector may give short time benefit to farmers but in long term it may harm farm sector.There was a genuine movement which was small across the country but it turned out to be a jat agitation in and around Delhi with all anti national forces supporting it.
        Land owning jat sikhs of punjab were leading the movement with huge support from hindu jat farmers of Haryana who were waiting for the chance to teach a lesson to bjp for building a non jat coalition and keeping them out of power in Haryana from 2014 on wards. Hindu jats of Uttar pradesh joined this movement for jat solidarity.
        If this bill would have gone through without resistance then Modi might have pushed genetically modified food crops into farming sector as GM lobby is pushing hard to introduce these and turn Indians into Guiana pigs.Already trails are going on and paid scientists are giving safe certificate for GM food crops.
        Attitude of Modi is one that of arrogance when there is no challenge to his policies and act of cowardice when there is an opposition to his policies.Even if he wins all all 543 out 543 he is not going to do anything better than what is he doing now.
        RSS is busy increasing number of shakas,some share in bjp ticket distribution,party posts and cabinet and increasing the acceptability factor by following Gandian foot steps. Read the RSS mouthpiece “organiser” where you can see defending all cowardice act of Modi,cover up for all failures for this government without giving any fair criticism or course correction.
        Governance failure does not bring change of government by default.
        Congress is sinking day by day and Raga’s IQ is not going to improve in this life time,no opposition party is gaining anything significant.All regional satraps have only limited appeal in their respective states and this TINA factor will make Modi win 2024.

  6. Debanjan Banerjee says:

    @Gaurav Tyagi and others,
    Considering that now Indians consider the Chinese as their biggest enemy, I would love to know how the Chinese view the following situations with regards to the modern Indian political economy. 1. Caste equation in India. 2. Khalistan issue and the Sikh diaspora. 3. Kashmir issue and North-East issues. Can China use these faultlines against India if in future India recognizes Taiwan ?

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Debanjan- 1. Caste equation in India. Chinese can never make out the head or tail out of it. A top Chinese government bureaucrat asked me this question;

      Do you know of any lower caste person in India , who has made it big in life 🤣

      2. Chinese have a deep hatred/resentment towards Sikhs. Reason being the atrocities committed by these 1/2 Rupee paid so called soldiers but in reality servants of the British on the local Chinese. For further reading- Google Boxer Rebellion in China and how it was crushed.

      3. Chinese deny the support of their government to the insurgents in North East India (btw, the top shot of ULFA is enjoying life in China aka Dawood Ibrahim in Pakistan)

      I am giving you in writing that the Indian politician, who has the balls to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation hasn’t taken birth yet.

  7. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    https://indianexpress.com/article/india/varthaman-abhinandan-wing-commander-iaf-vir-chakra-ram-nath-kovind-pakistan-7634971/

    What a comedy. This guy didn’t do anything to deserve a award. Next BJP will induct and let him contest elections anyways, this party of pseudo nationalists have almost no clout in most parts of Southern India.

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