Flashpoint! Taiwan Strait?

[ US Navy’s USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier strike group]

There are some very nervous people in Washington and Beijng, each wishing the other side regains good sense in time and backs down. The person who will decide the direction the latest Taiwan crisis will take is the powerful Speaker of the Lower House of the US Congress — the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, a plucky 80 + year old California Congresswoman, who has always been a drama queen. She means to pay the Taiwan a visit. The Biden Administration tried to deflect this political venture by asking her to postpone her visit for the nonce on some trumped up reason or the other, not cancel it. This would save both America’s face and China’s and put off the crisis to another day.

Till last heard, Pelosi will have none of it; her trip is on. She revealed to the media that the Biden Administration fears the aircraft carrying her could be be ambushed, shot down by Chinese combat aircraft in the air corridors cleared for her flight to Taipei. This assumes that Beijing will, in fact, follow through on its promise of severe response in case Pelosi disregards the “One China principle”, proceeds on her Taiwan goodwill mission, and precipitates a crisis. While it will prove that Beijing’s huffing and puffing wasn’t all bluff, the shooting down of Pelosi’s aircraft will quickly ratchet up the crisis to a flashpoint.

The US military is rounding into business. The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier strike group left Singapore July 27, heading towards Taiwanese waters, no doubt to be on hand to, among other things, provide Pelosi’s plane, which will have US aircraft ex-Guam for protecton, augmented fighter escort if needed for her flight into Taipei, and otherwise to be in the van of the US military units in the area in case President Xi Jinping decides he has too much to lose domestically by allowing the American leader to carry on unhindered after instructing his regime to make so much hoo-ha about it, and orders the PLA air force and PLA navy into action.

A tense General Mark Milley, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, flanked by the Commander-in-Chief US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Chris Aquilino, in Sydney to attend the 24th Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defense Conference, said: “We will do what is necessary to ensure a safe…conduct of [Pelosi’s] visit…I’ll just leave it at that…what that results in we’ll have to wait and see.”

This is too delicious a strategic crisis to ignore, It pits America against China in a test of wills with the prospect of only one side coming up tops. It is a test case of future confrontations in Asia. On two previous relatively recent occasions, China thought better of it and withdrew. In response to PLA’s firing surface-to-surface rocket and missile barrages, President Bill Clinton in 1995 ordered the USS Chester Nimitz carrier strike group into the Taiwan Strait. In 2007 the USS Kitty Hawk strike group loitered in the same Strait without eliciting any Chinese response. That Beijing reacted so strongly this time around, thereby deliberately and with forethought raising the ante, suggests that Xi and his military commanders in the Central Military Commission are confident that the PLA forces, much improved, can take on the US.

How will this crisis pan out? There are only two possibilities,

Pelosi decides this is all too much and scrubs the Taiwan trip handing Beijing a political victory it will milk to the max reinforcing. in the process, China’s tendency, in General Milley’s words, to “bully or dominate” other nations. The fiasco will further erode what credibility America has left as ally and strategic partner, and showcase Washington’s unwillingness to stand up to the emerging Asian behemoth, and likely provide not only Taiwan, but also Japan and South Korea, with more motivation to acquire nuclear weapons and, security-wise, become independent of the US.

[Liaoning in the Hong Kong waters]

The second possibility is that Xi will recognize that all the Chinese angst and vituperation against Taiwanese secessionism and American provocation is not going to raise the fighting quality of the PLA forces, and any hostilities may prove to the world what many already suspect that China is not a peer rival of the US, that the Chinese navy’s shiny new aircraft carriers — Liaoning and the Shandong (sans aircraft!), for instance, are like the rest of the PLA, paper tigers, good enough only to scare, say, India with!

In this confrontation with so much riding on it, there will be a winner. My money is on China getting cold feet because, by my reckoning, PLA, PLAAF, PLAN are still 20 years away from being America’s military equal.

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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61 Responses to Flashpoint! Taiwan Strait?

  1. whatsinitanyway says:

    All the fight over a girl….. Geopolitics is lit these days.

  2. I concur. China is unlilely to take on the US militarily at this stage. It’s highly probable that China will come up with some ingenious way of avoiding a confrontation and yet not losing face. Now, what that step will be will be fascinating to see!

  3. Nalin Surie says:

    Point taken. NS.
    [Mr Surie is a former ambassador to China]

    • ss108 says:

      China will NEVER do this . Good ol merica can crush the disease exporting nation in 2-3 weeks. Chinese equipment is trash for the most part .

  4. Amit says:


    Agree with your assessment that China is not a military peer of the US. Whether it’s a 20 year gap, I don’t know. But I watched a CSIS assessment of China’s ‘sustainment’ capabilities including its logistics, medvac, Human Resource etc. capabilities to sustain long term combat operations. While there are gaps in knowledge of China’s capabilities, there is general agreement that China cannot fight a war longer than two weeks currently, and there are serious gaps in its capabilities to invade Taiwan. So China can blow a lot of hot air, but it is more likely that than anything more.

    And from what I’ve heard from Prof. Mearsheimer, the US is now actively trying to contain or even roll back Chinese progress. All good from an Indian PoV.

  5. Roy says:

    It is important to mention to the low information readers of your website that Pelosi is second-in-line for the presidency. As second-in-line for the presidency, Pelosi’s presence would send a strong signal of support for Taiwan’s independence.

  6. Gram Massla says:

    Will the CCP will back down? At this stage of the game it comes down to the perception of each side as to the qualitative edge assigned to each country’s weapons. Here the Americans come out ahead. They flaunt their weapons and its capabilities. The CCP is secretive and leaving its enemies guessing. If the CCP feels that the weapons at its disposal are superior to the Americans then they will see this as an opportunity and initiate some kind of punitive action. Since it may be assumed that both sides do not desire nuclear annihilation, the conflict, under the threshold of nuclear weapons, will be swift and intense. Even a stalemate will favor the CCP as the task of threatening, bullying and getting its way with middle level powers such as India become easier. Any conflict between the US and the CCP, even a very short one, will leave much of the rest of the world in sheer terror.

  7. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    If Pelosi cancels her visit to Taiwan then it clearly means that the Yankees got scared of the Chinese.

    Pelosi proceeding with her proposed trip to Taiwan means China ought to follow up on its repeated warnings of initiating military operations.

    If the Chinese just conduct some military exercises, fly fighter planes around Taiwan and write some articles in Global Times then it means they chickened out.

    • Email from Joydeep Sircar:
      Fri, 29 July at 8:58 am

      You are right, but my bet is on China starting something elsewhere to fashion an excuse for both sides to climb down without losing face.

  8. Email from Air Marshal Harish Masand (Retd):
    Fri, 29 July at 11:26 am

    Very interesting, Bharat. Hope it plays out the way you see it. Otherwise, Indo-Pacific is in trouble.
    Warm regards,


  9. Ayush says:

    Dr karnad
    i dont know whether you have read this or not. However,CMC vice chairman Xu Qiliang (real power in china) had very publicly acknowledged 10 years ago(back when he was air force chief ) that the chinese military is “some 15-20 year behind the US.” Make no mistake the ccp bosses and the CMC chiefs are not at all deluded imbeciles like Putin&Co to their north. They have built a formidable A2/D2 firewall.They will still clearly get overwhelmed in an all out US military assault.However,i do believe the chinese will be able to avoid the crushing “shock and awe” effect which saddam faced back in Op desert storm/iraqi freedom.They are perhaps in a position to impose prohibitive costs upon the US.
    However,their weapons are clearly trash.For instance, the reverse engineered russian air defenses which they sold to pak- HQ-9(S-300),HQ-16(Buk Mk2) not only don’t work but their spare parts are also faulty.This is something which even Pak media has acknowledged.These overhyped systems failed to detect a supersonic brahmos.Just how effective these will be against actual 5th gen jets (not j-20) like F-35/F-22 is anybody’s guess.


    My own views about the current situation between US and China over Taiwan are as follows:

    1. The reasons behind the current situation are in my views not what the common people are saying. The biggest reason in my view is the Chinese decision to significantly reduce their purchase of the US government bonds particularly in the aftermath of the Ukraine war. In fact MK Bhadrakumar reports that for the first time in more than a decade the Chinese total investment in US government bonds came below 1 Trillion dollars. Those in this forum who understand the importance of Chinese investing their trade surpluses into the US government bonds , will appreciate the significance of the Chinese reducing or moving away their investment from the safety of the US government bonds.

    2. China despite severe US pressure and sanctions(implemented by both the Trump and Biden administrations) to curtail the development of microchips industry , has been able to achieve greater success in recent weeks when it comes to more sophisticated microchips. This is also not good from the US perspective in the long run.

    3. When it comes to Taiwan, China can implement a naval blockade that will make sure the Taiwanese collapse within months. In that case the Chinese will not need to directly confront the American navy but will achieve its objectives in the process without firing a shot. David P Goldman believes China can win war against Taiwan in this way.

    I would love Dr Karnad’s views about possible Chinese naval blockade of Taiwan and what the US can do about it ?

  11. andy says:

    Spot on @Bharat, China will back down because it’s nothing but a bully. Bullies tend to be cowards and need poking in their eye. If the US military won’t stand up to them at this stage then no other country can. Chinese are just like their Pakistani stooges threatening nuclear war at the drop of a hat, this bluff was called out due to balakot airstrikes and their saber rattling was found to be just a load of trash.

    In fact India must synchronise a quick assault or outflanking manoeuvre with this visit, in the Depsang plains to take back lost territory,my money is on the Chinese backing down there as well without much ado. Remember that this latest transgression at the LAC took place when the Wuhan virus pandemic was at its peak and the 1962 war was initiated during the Cuban missile crisis. You rightly mention this is too delicious a confrontation to ignore, hopefully the powers that be in India can gather some guts and gumption to launch a proactive surprise on the Chinese for a change(a la SFF unit taking over the Kailash range) instead of forever being in reactive mode to the ongoing salami slicing tactics.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Andy- If China is a bully, do you think India is any better?

      Political leadership puts the ball in army’s court and the latter toss it back again to the former.

      What stopped Indian leadership (both political and military) to continue the fight started by the Chinese side in June 2020?

      Modi is on record (giving clean chit to the Chinese) that nobody intruded/occupied Indian territory.

      Why did India vacate the Kailash range heights?

      Chinese moles in the Indian establishment are present from the janitor level to right at the top.

      So, don’t expect any change in status quo.

      • Andy says:

        ‘If China is a bully, do you think India is any better?’
        Yep, for sure India is not a bully, we don’t covet territories based on false ‘historical claims’, and then go around trying to coerce numerous countries to accept such baseless falsehood. When that doesn’t work then out comes the encroachment by stealth. That’s the most cowardly thing to do. Why did china stop the fight which THEY started if their claims are so righteous? Why do they have to encroach under the cover of pandemic or other events when the world is preoccupied?

        Kailash range was occupied and vacated only to restore the status quo which the Chinese bullies had changed when the Wuhan virus pandemic was raging in India. They got a bloody nose for their troubles in the Galwan clash. Pangong tso had to be vacated by the cowards in return for India vacating the Kailash range. Surely that was a blunder because India should not have vacated these strategically important heights without resolution of all the encroached territory.

        What makes you so sure that there are no Indian moles in the Chinese government from the peon to the highest echelons of the CCP?

        The Chinese have broken all written agreements with India about border management protocols ( peace and tranquillity anyone?) now trying to brazen it out, by encroaching on grey areas astride the LAC that have yet to be demarcated. Both sides have counter claims on these very areas ,so yes no Indian territory was occupied, but the areas of overriding claims have been encroached upon by the “invincible PLA” undercover of the pandemic by stealth, moving troops to forward areas under the pretext of military exercise,that’s subterfuge of the highest order. So what’s right for the goose is right for the gander, India made them blink by the Kailash range tactical move,and can do so again if they move in on the Depsang plains.

        India is paying the price of past errors in judgement made right after 1947 and onwards.

  12. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    The base of India’s military industry is relatively weak, so indigenous aircraft carrier development is a challenge, Song said, noting that China can design whole aircraft carriers by itself, but India can only do part of the design.

    An excerpt from the following;


  13. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    The People’s Liberation Army will monitor Pelosi’s plane in a timely manner. If it is found flying toward our airspace, the PLA fighter jets could warn, follow, intercept, electronically interfere, force a landing, or drive it back. In this process, any consequences may occur, and the responsibility rests entirely with the US.

    An excerpt from the following article;


    In the same aforementioned article, the Chinese are giving a hint to Pelosi how to go about her Taiwan trip. Check this out;

    Others say that if Pelosi sneaked into Taiwan via a civilian airliner, it would be difficult to identify the plane. It is true. Yet if she comes and goes in such a way, we may not be able to make countermoves in time, but it will be Pelosi who bears the embarrassment. Her move will also be remembered, and one day she will have to pay it back.

    The Chinese side is telling Pelosi please visit Taiwan in a civilian/commercial flight. We will just write a few strongly worded articles in Global Times and fly air-force jets around Taiwan.

    Favorite phrase of the Chinese establishment; win-win situation for all parties involved.

  14. Sankar says:

    “The US military is rounding into business. The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier strike group left Singapore July 27, heading towards Taiwanese waters, no doubt to be on hand to, among other things … will have US aircraft ex-Guam for protecton, augmented fighter escort if needed for her flight into Taipei,…” –

    In my limited study of world events, I fail to see how such browbeating could unfold in the reality of militarily defending Taiwan if push comes to shove by the US.

    The following link throws light on the context:

    “Curiously, the Biden faces two crisis situations with explosive potential at the moment — in Ukraine and over Taiwan. Indeed, it is crystal clear that both have been precipitated by Washington. Yet, the manner in which Biden is handling them couldn’t be anymore dissimilar.

    In the case of Taiwan, Biden didn’t hesitate to call up Chinese President Xi Jinping to calm the tensions. But he has chosen a different path to communicate with President Vladimir Putin.

    For sure, into the six month of the conflict in Ukraine, Biden has finally decided to bite the bullet and resume high-level contact with Moscow. But he opted to get through to Putin through his state secretary! ”

    The Ukraine experiment is facing a disastrous outcome for NATO and the US. My hunch is that Moscow could continue its military action for another five years at least to consolidate its strategic grip in the European sphere. Facing such a fiasco, Washington will not be game to take on China over Taiwan.

  15. Mr.Mister says:

    “My money is on China getting cold feet because, by my reckoning”

    This did not age very well. Lol!

  16. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Andy- In the murky world of international geopolitics, no country is a saint. As the saying goes in Hindi ‘everyone is naked in the public bath house’

    I came across numerous Nepali and Bangladeshi citizens during my long stay in The Netherlands, not one of them had anything positive to say about India.

    They hated the blatant interference of Indian establishment in their country’s internal politics so, yes India is also a bully in the South Asian neighborhood.

    Look at the size of the economies of both China as well as India furthermore compare the lop sided trade figure between the two, you will then get the answer whose moles in the corridors of power are outsmarting the other’s.

    China indeed got a bloody nose during the confrontation of 2020 (in terms of PLA losing more soldiers than the Indian side) however, in military operations, success and failure is measured by the accomplishment of strategic objectives not by counting the body bags.

    Chinese annexed the territory (some claim it to be Indian others say it constituted the buffer zone) therefore, the onus was on India to continue the fight to get back the aforementioned land.

    China doesn’t follow the agreements. This all is utter defeatist mentality. Nobody stopped the Indian forces from putting aside the obsolete agreement of not using firepower.

    Indian forces should have retaliated with heavy weaponry to settle the matter in their favor. It was an utter failure on their part not to optimize the resources at their disposal and getting caught in the trap laid by PLA.

    The supreme leader of India meanwhile is on record saying that the Chinese didn’t do anything at the LAC;

    “Sixteen rounds of talks have taken place at the military level between India and China. If no outsider was inside Indian territory, why did 20 soldiers make the supreme sacrifice? What conversation is taking place between the military commanders in these endless rounds of talks? Why are the words ‘disengagement’ and ‘withdrawal’ used by the MEA repeatedly? Is it not true that Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar’s statement and other MEA statements demanded the restoration of ‘status quo ante’?”

    The aforesaid is an excerpt from the following;


  17. Andy says:

    Geopolitics may be a murky world but some countries choose to play by the rules that have been established while some like china want behave like the proverbial “bull in the china shop”. Pun intended.

    Status quo ante restored at Pangong tso because of the proactive move on the Kailash range. By vacating those dominating heights India lost a huge leverage that could have got status quo ante restored across all the current encroachments. That’s the purpose of moving in so many troops and other assets, it has to be restored and will be restored if there is created the same leverage at some other point,maybe the Depsang plains,which btw precedes this current crises and govt. So without labouring on the point ,restoration of Status quo ante as it existed before the current crises was initiated is India’s end game and that’s what is being discussed during the military talks.

    China runs a trade surplus with most countries, what indicator is this fact of chinese moles being present in the Indian government? I mean let’s have some relevant context to the topic being discussed, what does size of economy have to do with moles? Are you indicating china has moles in all countries it has a trade surplus with or all countries whose economies are smaller? Or it has the second largest economy because it has moles planted across numerous countries?Now that is defeatism at its very best.

    Supreme leaders exist only in authoritarian states like china, last I heard India is a thriving democracy with an elected PM. And here are his exact words, again you are out of context, “Neither have they intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken over by them (China). Twenty of our jawans were martyred, but those who dared Bharat Mata, they were taught a lesson,” said PM Modi. Border is the key word here, no mention of the LAC.

    Indian forces will retaliate as they see fit, the Chinese used medeival hand held weapons so were hammered with the same by the Indian army,you are taking the non use of heavy weapons as an indicator of something,conveniently forgetting the surprise on Kailash range and their subsequent withdrawal from the Pangong tso,that had the cowards withdrawing their tanks to a safe distance. Same at Galwan they dismantled their tents and withdrew after getting hammered.

    Pangong tso was the biggest encroachment with the most number of troops and weapons deployed by the Chinese side,they have been made to withdraw. Of the other contentious points Gogra pp 17A has been resolved in 2021. Now the focus on pp 15 at Hot springs,where 1000 plus soldiers was locked in a stand off at the height of the crisis. Presently only small detachments of about 50 troops each from both sides are present there, So withdrawal almost achieved and status quo almost restored at this last contentious spot of the current flare up.

    At Demchock a couple of tents erected ostensibly by Tibetan civilians predates the current crises ,so does the Depsang plains area. So why use heavy weapons when talks and tactical out flanking works just as well with the mighty PLA?
    In 2017 during the Doklam stand off we had the Global times huffing and puffing ” The Indian military can choose to return to it’s territory with dignity or be kicked out by Chinese soilders… India will suffer greater losses than in 1962…we must teach New Delhi a bitter lesson”

    Spoiler :: No Indians were kicked out,no losses were suffered, no bitter lessons were taught.

    Numerous Japanese,South Koreans and Vietnamese I met when travelling have the same opinion about China that most Indians do. Do all the citizens of those countries hold the same opinion? No.

    Bangladesh owes its independence to India,what if the Indian forces didn’t withdraw post 1971? Wonder what china would do in Indias place? Withdraw? Fat chance!! If India coveted their territories then occupation was a given, granting them independence is an act of magnanimity which they should be eternally grateful for,so is it a surprise if India expects an even handed approach by them?

    There is precedent to diffusing a crisis that the Chinese create on the LAC. The Somdurung chu showdown was initiated in 1986/87 by the Chinese,the Indians under CAS K. Sunderji airlifted a huge number of troops to confront the PLA. Finally after numerous talks the Chinese moved back in 1993. That’s a good 6/7 years of confrontation leading to resolution.

    P. Chidambaram is a known Modi baiter, as are many, many others, again the sign of a thriving democracy. Wonder what would happen to him in china??

    So Status ante will be restored on the LAC in Ladakh there can be doubt on this count.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Andy- ‘some countries choose to play by the rules that have been established’

      No country plays by any rules. There are numerous examples of CIA as well as KGB carrying out political assassinations, coup attempts around the globe.

      China has indeed bought politicians in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Britain etc. Refer to the recent joint statement made by the directors of MI6 and CIA to get the context in which I made the above statement.

      Recently, a thriving luxury club was busted by Indian Police in NCR. It was being run for some time. Do you know the owner of the premises is the son of a politician, whose name wasn’t revealed in the media.

      An arrested Chinese national (the aforementioned case) said during interrogation that it’s very easy for Chinese to enter India via Nepal. They just have to pay 20,000 odd Indian Rupees to the authorities.
      The guy even had a genuine Indian passport.

      This is what I meant by moles. An ex KGB guy mentioned in his book that whole India was for sale during Indira’s regime. Refer to the case of Ravinder Singh, a high profile RAW operative, who was a CIA mole and defected to US via Nepal.

      Anyone who thinks that the situation is better now has his/her head buried in the sand.

      The proof of the pudding lies in its eating. I will believe it if/when the Chinese move back to the pre-May 2020 position although I have serious doubts about it.

      Chidambaram can be whatever but the points what he raised in the aforementioned write up are quite relevant.

  18. Andy says:

    @ Gaurav
    “No country plays by any rules.”
    By CIA and KGB you are referring to the erstwhile superpowers, are they not the ones who made the rules, maybe unwritten, at the end of WW2? The Soviet union no longer exists,the single hegemon is the USA. China is just an upstart trying to rock the boat. It thinks by making empty threats and so called wolf warrior diplomacy it can have it’s way. Hide your strength bide your time was their mantra,now that the gloves are off it will be challenged at every step,make no mistake about this fact. It will not become a superpower unless it is willing to spill a whole of Chinese blood.

    Status quo ante restored in all but Hot springs area,no need to belabour a point. Otherwise what is the meaning of “mutual withdrawal” of forces. Nit picking about it will not change the existing ground realities. Even hot springs would be solved by now,but the Indian side is hell bent on resolving the Depsang plains incursion that happened many years back,the Chinese simply don’t want to discuss it because it predates the current standoff as well as govt.

    Buying politicians cannot make a country an economic success, China’s prowess is it’s manufacturing capability, that’s the singular reason it’s the second biggest economy. So moles or greasing politicians palms is irrelevant in this context is the point I’m trying to make.

    No corruption in china?? By implication you want us to infer this,did anyone mention that India is corruption free ? It’s standing up to China irrespective of all the shortcomings that we all are aware of, therefore the assumption that India will just roll over and die only because china thinks its the right time to walk in and encroach on disputed grey areas, and that this aim will be achieved because corruption is rampant is missing the woods for the trees.

    P Chidambaram would have disappeared if he had written such things about the supreme leader xi if he was a Chinese citizen is the only point I’m trying to make here. What he says is relevant from your point of view, someone else can have a different take on them, isn’t it so? BTW I’m not writing this as a Modi supporter! In India we know having opposing view points is our democratic right.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Andy- Chidambaram wouldn’t have written anything criticizing the Chinese Emperor had he been a Chinese citizen 🙂

      Even after the break up of USSR, the Russian intelligence has carried out numerous assassinations abroad especially in Britain. A German author/reporter even wrote a book about it, “From Russia with Blood”

      I never said there is no corruption in China. In fact, when it comes to corrupt practices India and China are the top two countries of the world.

      Talking tough doesn’t make a country strong, actions matter. Btw, I just came across the following on Indian Express website;

      US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to arrive in Taipei later on Tuesday, people briefed on the matter said, as the United States said it would not be intimidated by Chinese “sabre rattling” over the visit.

      One person familiar with Pelosi’s itinerary said that most of her planned meetings, including with President Tsai Ing-wen, were scheduled for Wednesday, and that it was possible that her delegation would arrive in Taiwan early on Wednesday.

      Taiwan newspaper Liberty Times said Pelosi’s delegation was due to arrive at 10.20 pm (1420 GMT or 7.50 pm IST) on Tuesday, without naming sources.

      Pelosi was scheduled to visit Malaysia on Tuesday. She began her Asia tour in Singapore on Monday, and her office has said she will also visit South Korea and Japan. It has not mentioned a Taiwan visit.

      Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it had no comment on reports of Pelosi’s travel plans, but the White House – which would not confirm the trip – said she had the right to go.

      China has repeatedly warned against a Pelosi visit.

      After Russia Ukraine war, which is still ongoing. Let a US-China war entertain the global audience. Bread and Circus 🎪

  19. Andy says:

    Action being taken at the LAC is tough enough to make China back down, what more is required?

    We could go on discussing what KGB,CIA,ISI,RAW etc did or are doing, maybe Sri Lanka has a secret service too. I’m limiting my discussion to what’s happening at the LAC,plus the fact that despite their browbeating and psychological warfare drama China doesn’t have the guts to follow through on its threats, making them sound hollow to say the least.

    My money on Pelosi making the visit and China backing down from its threats. That leaves Xi with egg on his face. The same happened in Doklam and already happening in the current LAC standoff.

    Coming to war being waged, China provokes other countries by objecting to visits by dignitaries to Taiwan or Arunachal Pradesh to name a couple of places. Who is asking for trouble in the first place? Intruding in disputed areas is war mongering not responding to this intrusive behaviour.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Andy- Sri-Lanka has an intelligence agency. State Intelligence Agency or SIS is responsible for both internal as well as external intelligence gathering.

      ‘Action being taken at the LAC is tough enough to make China back down, what more is required?’

      The most important action long overdue is to get back the 1,000-odd sq kms in the area northeast of the Y-Junction on the Depsang Plain from PLA’s control.

      Chest thumping and browbeating is also done regularly by the Indian establishment. Refer to the comments of various Generals regarding ready for two front war etc.

      • Andy says:

        Chest thumping being indulged in by China, look Xi got some egg on his face!

        “After Russia Ukraine war, which is still ongoing. Let a US-China war entertain the global audience. Bread and Circus 🎪”

        So instead of a China vs US war let’s have an India vs China war to entertain the global audience.Thats not ‘ bread and Circus’s???

  20. vivek says:

    per latest news Pelosi visit to Taiwan is confirmed and will proove china’s bluffing and doing nothing. Once this happen hope indian gov will take note of it in future dealings with China

  21. Sankar says:

    “Border is the key word here, no mention of the LAC.” –

    Could you please cite an official document (or a link to it) where the northern “border” of India is drawn (by Modi?) on a map? Is that the McMahon line of the British Raj era? If there is no official map published from Delhi post-1947, does your concept of the “border” not become a fig of imagination?

    Furthermore, where does the LAC lie within India’s that “border”, if that exists officially?

    • GOI sticks to the “border” drawn with a thick-nibbed pen on a map by the Brit Raj.

      • Andy says:

        Concur with this….you and many of us may want an even more proactive approach with which to tackle China,but undeniably a few things are being done right at the LAC. At the very least the fiasco of a1000 plus sq kms of strategically important territory at the Depsang plains, that seems to have been lost by the previous GOI, almost uncontested, is not being repeated.

      • Have been urging India go full proactive-preemptive for 40 years now! Weare still nowhere there yet. And not true that the 1,000 sqkms lost was all in Manmohan Singh’s time.

  22. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Visit stretches ‘One China’ formula to breaking

    John Sudworth
    Reporting from Washington

    Nancy Pelosi’s flight, and the geopolitical storm surrounding it, have brought into sharp focus some of the changing realities for Taiwan, its people and its relationship with China and the US.

    For decades, the two big superpowers have relied on two little words – “One China” – to do a lot of heavy lifting. Beijing uses the principle as the basis for its claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, while the US argues that, in its adherence to a “One China” policy, it merely acknowledges that the claim exists.

    The deliberate ambiguity in this formula is now being stretched to breaking point.

    Few observers any longer dare to hope that it will buy time for China’s economic development to eventually bring with it a softening of its political model. Or, alternatively, for deepening trade ties that would build a dependency that makes the threat of war redundant.

    Instead, today, China is as unapologetically authoritarian and intolerant of dissent as it ever was, and Taiwan is a vibrant democracy, with free elections and a flourishing civil society. It’s a shift that poses major questions both for the US and for the Chinese Communist Party which sees the territory drifting – in terms of values and identity – ever further from its grasp.

    A US politician flying for a short visit to a long-standing ally would in any other place be of little note.

    But in Pelosi’s visit, the symbolism itself is substance.

    Time for the so called ‘Hindu Hridaysamrat’ and self proclaimed ‘Vishvguru’ to fly over to Taiwan as well 🥳

  23. Amit says:

    Well, it looks like China huffed and puffed and couldn’t blow the house down. Let’s see what the next round of huffing and puffing brings. Let the US and China fight. India should watch the show from the sidelines. Though I do hope it remains at the huffing and puffing level. No one wants a war between these two.

  24. Deepak says:

    Let us see if barking dog bites.

    • Biting time has passed!

      • Deepak says:

        Time for our armed forces to take proactive action along LAC as dragon is proven to be toothless.

      • Amit says:

        Its one thing that China can last for two weeks against the US, but quite another with India. India will probably not last more than two weeks with China currently. So the right thing for India to do would be to build its capabilities to last a long war with China. In the meanwhile, reciprocate the pin prick strategy to keep the pressure up on China. With the US stepping up pressure on China, it could lead a short term détente with India and China. India should leverage any such developments to continue building its military capabilities, and at the same time sabotage the CPEC.

  25. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Andy- It was expected that China won’t do anything except useless blah blah. The following is before Pelosi made the trip to Taiwan.

    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) called China’s threats over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) trip to Taiwan a “bluff.”

    Gingrich said on “Fox & Friends” that he dealt with a similar situation when he visited China and Taiwan in 1997.

    Gingrich was the last House Speaker to visit the self-governing island.

    He said China invited him to visit and make speeches in Shanghai and Beijing, but they “went crazy” when they learned he also planned to visit Taiwan.

    He said his national security adviser told the Chinese ambassador that the Chinese government does not decide where the House Speaker travels, and if Gingrich needs to decide, he would choose to go to Taiwan and not China.

    Gingrich said the two sides worked out a deal in which Gingrich would travel to China to give his speeches but then go to Japan before visiting Taiwan so he would not go directly from China to Taiwan.

    “They backed down,” he said. “Their current bluff is just that.”

    It’s high time that India and China fight a war to settle their so called LAC once and for all but sadly neither the Chinese emperor nor the self proclaimed ‘Vishvguru’ possess the guts to initiate it.

    • Andy says:

      India will fight a war only at the time and place it chooses, plus you seen contradictory in your views. An India vs China war is recommended but not an USA vs China war, which seems like a circus for global audiences in your considered assessment. How can anyone reconcile such a contradiction?

      Unlike you my intent is not Modi bashing just for the sake of doing so, a balanced outlook seems in order to understand the nitty gritties of what’s actually happened at the LAC?

      Having said that I’m asking GOI to take a more proactive approach to the whole matter,if it means war so be it. But the Chinese have shown that they can be made to back down by tactical maneuvers, now that’s a big give away showing they have no stomach for a fight.

      Moving 50 to 60 k troops to the desolate border seems a pretty proactive move by both countries, now it’s a matter of time and both have to wait for the final outcome. China not pressing it’s unfounded claims shows they are the guilty party, why don’t they wage war to settle the LAC dispute once and for all? Furtive local action and creeping salami slicing tactics are not going to get it anywhere. When they clearly show they’ve no belly for a fight and are only interested in ill gotten gains accrued through subterfuge who is going to take their threats seriously?

      They creeped into grey areas of the border and were sent packing from all but one of the areas,now that is a good outcome from India’s viewpoint. Depsang plains were stolen by the Chinese during UPA rule,blaming the present GOI for that fiasco is not on. How to get it back? The same way the Pangong tso encroachment was cleared out by India, a localised tactical move that outflanked the Chinese, likewise needs to be done here, outflank the Chinese pickets and present them with a fait accompli This will get the desired outcome for India based on the Pangong tso experience. What more needs to be done is the question you are not addressing.

      Status quo ante has been restored at major standoff points, why use a sledge hammer when the desired outcome can be obtained by a small hammer?

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Andy- I am not at all contradicting myself, it’s just your assumption. Putin has shown that wars haven’t gone out of vogue. US-China or Indo-China war. Let them fight and sort out their differences rather than doing useless blah blah. It goes for all sides.

        Blaming UPA administration, which is out of power now for more than eight years is nothing but a lousy excuse for hiding BJP’s incompetence.

        Refer to Sankar’s latest comment. He has summed it up brilliantly.
        Your statement that India will fight only….is nothing but brushing aside the problem.

        I am not indulging in Modi bashing since, the guy loves talking tough, he should back it up by some actions. Indulging in rhetorics gets boring very soon.

    • Amit says:

      @Tyagiji, chaaku chhuri ho to ladai ki baat ek hai. Rocket force aur nuclear bum hon, to baat kuch alag hi hai!

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Amit- India and China can again choose to fight with medieval style weapons like the previous confrontation in 2020.

        No country can risk the first use of nuclear weapons.

  26. Sankar says:

    @Professor Karnad (and Andy, Gaurav):
    “the “border” drawn with a thick-nibbed pen on a map” –
    This is just a euphemism for something like saying “do not know where the border is”!

    But first to note that I have received the same answer of “thick-nibbed pen” in the context from one (retired) Major General sometime after the Galwan clash, from a (retired) IAF officer long back, and so on. The MajGen was posted in the Ladakh sector for a while and said he took part in negotiations with his Chinese PLA counterparts for LAC alignments (?) when the Chinese countered him with their claim that they have past receipts of “land tax” from the locals in the area and so on to establish China’s sovereignty. But he would not like to be bothered any further when countered whether he had verified in which language were these “receipts” written – Tibetan or Chinese? I would have thought that if it were Tibetan, PLA could not claim the land to be in China’s sovereign territory since the Tibetan language is written in Indic scripts and not Chinese!

    Anyway, back to “thick-nibbed pen”. First question, which “map” is meant here – on which the “McMahon line” is drawn? I presume, it is. It is the same McMahon line demarcation that China has settled her “border” with Myanmar (Burmah) as well as with Pakistan with PaK ceded the Shaksgam Valley to China – the thick-nibbed pen was not the issue then. And what was the map which India had deposited with the UN to get registration of its sovereign territory as an independent nation state?

    This just leads to the glaring moral bankruptcy of the past and present India’s political masters as well as the Armed Forces leadership (post 1980s) who have cowed down to China’s threat.to fight a war with China for safeguarding India’s sovereign territory.

    There are also other fundamental issues here for India’s statecraft to really to come to grips on. One cannot expect a modern technological specification of the border which existed from time immemorial by GPS and satellite technology as it is available today. Even if it were the issue of a “thick-nibbed pen”, what were the scales in that cartographic map – scale to the “hundred mile” unit? The ambiguity could not be then thousands of miles. Even then, I am sure that Khurnak Fort which was the Maharajah’s fort would be beyond the grey area of the thick-nib. The Chinese have taken it over for years and destroyed all the Maharajah’s traces there.

    And I do remember to have come across reading somewhere Nehru’s bold statement before he died after the debacle of 1962 which he himself had engineered that China is claiming territory which for ten thousand years did not belong to them. It could be traceable if proper records are kept in the archives. In sum, the “thick-nibbed pen” is not the issue, but has been made an issue to cover up for India’s cowardice in the public face.

    In sum, the “thick-nibbed pen” is just arguing for the sake of arguing.

    • Andy says:

      Nehru’s cowardice is true. You talk of Khurnak fort being in Chinese possession, but a little known fact is the Minsar enclave. General Zorawar Singh Kahluria invaded Tibet on behalf of the Maharaja of J and K and reached near mount Kailash ,where bad weather and a combined Tibetan and Chinese army was able to defeat his army

      Later this same combined army invaded Ladakh and were defeated by the Maharaja that’s when a treaty was signed and the border was demarcated. Wherein the Maharaja was allowed to retain rights over the Minsar enclave near Mt.Kailash and levy taxes to provide some amenities for pilgrims.

      All this was forfeited by Nehru’s short sighted and compromising attitude towards China. Which Sardar Patel repeatedly warned him against. So this problem predates this and the previous government and starts in 1947.

      China not willing to settle the border with India that’s the crux of the whole matter.otherwise this problem would not fester for so long. It’s settled disputed borders with most countries including Russia, Myanmar etc.

  27. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Check out the following;


    Excerpts from the aforementioned;

    The one-China principle is the common consensus of the international community, including India. India is one of the first countries to recognize that there is only one China.

    Height of desperation on part of the Chinese.

    India should say that we no longer recognize the joke of only one China.

    Taiwan and China are two separate nations like India and Pakistan.

  28. Andy says:

    ‘I am not at all contradicting myself, it’s just your assumption. Putin has shown that wars haven’t gone out of vogue. US-China or Indo-China war. Let them fight and sort out their differences rather than doing useless blah blah.’

    Oh yes, the contradiction is there to be seen in black and white, changing tack when cornered, plenty of Chinese influence on display.

    The question you need to answer is would Putin have invaded Ukraine if it still retained its nuclear weapons? The answer is a big No.

    Not acknowledging the UPA govts idiotic and cowardly conduct in allowing the Depsang plains to be taken over, without resorting to any and every means to end the imbroglio is a lousy way of looking at the whole current flare up in Ladakh.

    Nope, the problem is not being brushed aside, no one can pretend that mobilising 50k plus troops is just nothing being done. The build up is on and no backing down from tackling the problem is visible. Just a matter of time now.

    You mean Xis rhetoric ? What’s happening in Ladakh and just happened in Taiwan is a clear sign of what I said earlier. Now that the gloves are off China will be challenged at every step of its nefarious agenda.

    Talking of wars China doesn’t have the guts to wage war on the various small nations like Phillipines, Indonesia,Vietnam etc in the SCS, with which it has disputes like the ones over Spratley and Paracel islands,not to talk of the Senkaku islands of Japan. Taiwan is another matter where they are threatening but not waging war.

    Mind you none of these countries is nuclear armed, so anyone who thinks China will wage war on nuclear armed India anytime soon needs a rethink. They are too much of cowards to do that. The last hot war they fought was with tiny Vietnam, wherein the I’ll armed Vietnamese militias sent them packing.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Andy- ‘plenty of Chinese influence on display’

      I am not influenced by Chinese establishment in any way. Refer to one of my earlier comments on this forum;

      Gaurav Tyagi on July 29, 2022 at 2:08 am

      If Pelosi cancels her visit to Taiwan then it clearly means that the Yankees got scared of the Chinese.

      Pelosi proceeding with her proposed trip to Taiwan means China ought to follow up on its repeated warnings of initiating military operations.

      If the Chinese just conduct some military exercises, fly fighter planes around Taiwan and write some articles in Global Times then it means they chickened out.

      Amassing 50,000 troops for more than two years isn’t any achievement when Chinese government has encroached/annexed Indian territory.

      Let’s settle the debate once and for all. I hold Professor Karnad in very high esteem since, he is one of the rare Indian strategic expert, who talks sense.

      Professor Karnad, please clarify has Modi government not ceded any territory to China? Has all the Indian territory been taken over by the Chinese during UPA government?

  29. Gopal says:

    Dear Mr.Karnad,

    Would like to know your reading of China sending a surveillance ship to Hambantota? Curious development, that- what with the crisis in Taiwan going on right now the timing is most curious. Also why hasn’t India been able to get Mr.Wickremesinghe to deny permission to the said ship?

    • It will supposedly berth for replenishment, but its downstream role is to get a read on Indian missile performance. But there seem to no Indian missile launches scheduled. So, perhaps, the PLAN tracking ship is making a dry run.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Professor Karnad- Thanks for the clarification.

        @Andy- So you see Modi is guilty of the following;

        1. Lying to the nation about the Chinese intrusion.

        2. Washing his hands off the whole issue by blaming it all on the erstwhile UPA establishment.

        3. Lacking the courage for authorizing the army to conduct an offensive operation to get the area in question back.

  30. Amit says:

    @Shankar, great powers go into war when their interests are seriously threatened. One could argue that Russia was never a big threat to the US and it made a blunder by initiating a proxy war in Ukraine (yes, I think the US instigated Russia into a war).

    But the issue with Taiwan is entirely different. The US (and for that matter the entire world) is dependent on Taiwan for advanced semiconductor chips. With such dependence on Taiwan, the US will without doubt defend Taiwan. Anyone who understands great power politics knows that the US goes to great lengths to protect its interests. There is almost no chance that the US does not defend Taiwan in case China attacks Taiwan today. I disagree with the Professor here who wants to stick to his point that the US is undependable. The US is very dependable when it comes to protecting its interests.

    The question is whether China will attack Taiwan when it does not yet have the military capabilities to do so. All your previous talk about informationalized warfare etc. etc. is a lot of hot air coming from China. Watch some analysis of Chinese logistics and sustainment capabilities and you will realize that China cannot defeat the US today in Taiwan. Even from a military weapons capability they cannot take over Taiwan today. The Chinese are not foolish. They will likely not attack Taiwan today.

    However, your comment about the Ukraine war distracting the US is accurate. The US would have been in a much stronger position against China had it not meddled in Ukraine. In fact it should co-opt Russia in its competition with China. But maybe the US has become overconfident in its ability to fight two fronts like they did in the Second World War. It’s not the best strategy. But that’s what they are doing. Time will tell if they succeed. My advice to the US would be to focus on China and co-opt Russia. This is what Trump tried and failed. On this score I agree with Trump’s approach.

    So please examine the facts. The US is taking on China and Russia at the same time. Russia by proxy and if push comes to shove, direct confrontation with China. There is very little chance that they will stand by and let China attack Taiwan.

  31. Andy says:

    Regarding your 3 points they are all bull and balderdash, just something that’s been cooked up in your own brain.

    1) There’s been no lying to the nation
    You are just trying to spin something said to explain the incursion.
    2) Depsang is the incursion of UPA era, which I acknowledged up front,where did Modi blame the current imbroglio on the UPA?
    3) The takeover of Kailash range is not an offensive move,in whose reckoning?

    So spinning things devoid of facts and shifting goalposts will not culminate the argument in your favour. Anyways this is just going around in circles. Bye for now!

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