‘Time to play hardball with China’

2 Interviews:with Rediff News and with Sputnik News

Interview with Rediff News published December 14, 2022 at https://www.rediff.com/news/interview/bharat-karnad-time-to-play-hardball-with-china/20221214.htm1

——— 

‘Unless India ups the ante, Beijing will continue to believe its transgressions are cost free and will feel encouraged to do more of the same.’

Tawang

IMAGE: A Bofors gun at the Tawang sector near the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh. Photograph: ANI Photo

“Beijing has never wavered in its conviction that the only Asian power that matters is China. India’s stance never challenged this assumption of Chinese supremacy, but rather sought to buy peace with Beijing…It is only when the viciousness of the Galwan incident surfaced in 2020 that some sense began to dawn on New Delhi,” Dr Bharat Karnad, the national security expert at the Centre for Policy Research, the New Delhi-based think-tank, tells Rediff.com‘s Senior Contributor Rashme Sehgal.

We are once again witnessing China in a very aggressive mood sending 300 Chinese soldiers to attack and take over an Indian post in the Tawang sector on December 9.
What do you believe precipitated this face off given that it has taken place in such freezing cold conditions?

There doesn’t seem to be any specific trigger for PLA skirmishes on, and intrusions across, the Line of Actual Control, such as the latest one last Friday in Yangtse in Tawang district.

It is apparently a strategy for the local commander to prosecute hostile actions as and when he is in a position to do so because the objective is to keep the disputed border unsettled.

It is a condition, Beijing hopes, will soften up the Indian government into a more territorial give-mode at the negotiating table.

This seems to be a reoccurring phenomenon with Indian troops facing a similar attack in the same sector on October 8, 2021.
In all, I understand 31 such attacks have taken place in this sector over the years with a prolonged attack having taken place during the Kargil war in 1999 which lasted 60 days.
How has India responded to these frequent and unprovoked aggressive actions?

XXXIII Corps — the largest formation in the Indian Army, responsible for defending India’s territorial claims on the LAC in the north east, is postured to react, which it is experienced and in a position to do.

But it is incapable of being proactive, or taking the fight to the enemy which, in fact, encourages the PLA to continue taking liberties and being provocative on the LAC.

Narendra Modi and Xi Zinping

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and Xi Jinping, general secretary of China’s Communist party about to shake hands at the G20 summit at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana cultural park in Badung, Bali, Indonesia. Photograph: PTI Photo

China has been steadily developing its infrastructure in the north east and is known to have built 128 villages on its side of the border with each of these villages known to be housing 100 families each.
How much does our infrastructure match these development activities and does India’s military upgradation match that of China?

The Indian government woke up late to the value of infrastructure in the regions on the Indian side of LAC, and then only because the build-up of high quality roads and telecommunications network so tactically advantaged the PLA it could no longer be ignored.

Still, India is at least 15 years behind China in the density and quality of infrastructure, even if the buildup were to be put on a war-footing.

The territory on our side of the border is said to be much more difficult to negotiate than that of the Chinese side making this infrastructure development for India much more difficult.

That may be so. But engineering techniques to, say, construct roads in difficult terrain while much advanced elsewhere in the world are still to be fully adopted by the Border Roads Organisation.

Maybe it is time to speed up the underway infrastructure buildup by bringing in private sector engineering majors, such as Larsen & Toubro, to build roads and bridges, excavate tunnels, and set up dual-use telecommunications systems.

I understand the Chinese side has been using drones in this sector on a regular basis and did so in substantial numbers on November 9 while the Indian response was to bring in the Sukhoi fighter jets.

Remote-controlled Chinese drones have been active in eastern Ladakh for over a year now. But no Indian action was taken to counter them in kind for two reasons. One, India did not have drones with the range or the capacity to loiter over Chinese encampments for sustained surveillance.

And two, because such Chinese drone incursions may have been perceived as doing some good in that they informed the PLA sector commander of the concentration of Indian forces in the contested areas and their robust preparations for at least a short duration war. It may have dissuaded him from pursuing a more aggressive approach.

The flights by Chandigarh-based Su-30MKIs confirmed to the Chinese command the IAF’s operational readiness, just in case.

This latest transgression shows that China will continue to change the goal posts on this border issue in order to achieve tactical advantage over us.

So, what’s new? This is what the Chinese have been doing since the mid-1950s when they first laid down the highway connecting the mainland to Xinjiang through Indian Aksai Chin, which activity the Indian government was blissfully unaware of!

Is this being done by Xi Jinping in order to divert attention of the Chinese people from the internal issues troubling the country?
These include unprecedented and widespread protests over the zero Covid policy as also the fact that its economy is not doing well.

Maybe. But as explained in my response to Question 1, these incidents are more likely part and parcel of a policy to keep the disputed border on the boil.

Tawang

IMAGE: Then Eastern Air Commander and now retired Air Marshal Dilip Kumar Patnaik visits the Vijaynagar Advanced Landing Ground in Arunchal Pradesh to review operational preparedness and interacted with Indian Army troops deployed there. Photograph: ANI Photo

The objective for Xi is to promote hyper nationalistic tendencies within the Chinese public and this objective seems to match the efforts of our own prime minister with his aim to create hyper nationalistic Hindutva to suit his political objectives.

Nationalism is useful to drive nation-building and to pursue policies for socio-economic uplift.

Both Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping are leaders who would like to restore to India and China respectively, their past glories — some of them imagined!

Tawang

IMAGE: Troops of the Indian Army at the International Border. Photograph: ANI Photo

How should India match this belligerence given that China does not want to solve the border dispute?
China has said repeatedly that the whole of Arunachal is its territory and they consider it to be part of southern Tibet.

India has to aggresively counter the Chinese moves by not just reciprocating in kind, but going one better.

It is high time New Delhi played hardball. India should begin, for instance, to refer to ‘Chinese occupied Tibet’ and champion the cause of ‘Free Tibet’, recognise Taiwan as a separate sovereign entity, campaign for the rights of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, and severely restrict the access Chinese goods and manufacturers enjoy to the Indian market.

Unless India ups the ante, Beijing will continue to believe its transgressions are cost free, and will feel encouraged to do more of the same.

The message from the recent 20th Chinese Communist party congress in Beijing was that the Chinese leadership will not soften its position either in eastern Ladakh or in Arunachal Pradesh.

Again, this is not a surprise. Chinese Communist party congresses haven’t varied in stating their country’s intention to realise territorially the China of yore, which includes, by Beijing’s reckoning, all the countries on the Himalayan watershed — Nepal, Bhutan and southern Xizang (that it calls especially the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh).

Beijing needs to be disabused of its notion that this can ever be achieved.

Tawang

IMAGE: Indo-Tibetan Border Police women personnel patrol the area near the border with China in Arunachal Pradesh. Photograph: ANI Photo

China needs to dominate this area and the only power that can stand against it is India.
Is this over-assertiveness on China’s part an attempt to cut us down to size, but for how long will we continue to find ourselves in this difficult situation?

Beijing has never wavered in its conviction that the only Asian power that matters is China, and the world better adjust to that reality.

India’s stance never challenged this assumption of Chinese supremacy, but rather sought to buy peace with Beijing by opening its market to its burgeoning industrial and manufacturing sector, and was reluctant to use the leverages it had (Chinese occupied Tibet, Free Tibet, Taiwan, Uyghur rights, market access).

It is only when the viciousness of the Galwan incident surfaced in 2020 that some sense began to dawn on New Delhi.

US and Western Europe likewise indulged China’s fantasies about an Asian order overseen by Beijing until the matter of the ‘nine dash line’ claims in the South China Sea and the security of Taiwan in the face of Chinese bellicosity melded with other issues — intellectual property rights, technology thievery, cyber warfare, and unbalanced trade, to revive concerns about the threat China posed to Western interests and to global peace and stability generally.

The result is a convergence of geopolitical, strategic and economic interests between India, Japan and other Asian States, the US and western Europe, and the beginnings of a collective effort to contain China.

China is giving US repeated warnings not to get close to the US.

Our response should be to tell Beijing to take a hike. And to warn Xi against getting close to Pakistan and proceeding with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.



Interview with Sputkink News published December 14, 2022 , at https://sputniknews.in/20221213/ex-indian-nsc-member-reflects-on-arunachal-clash-with-chinese-army-50894.html

Ladakh Standoff

The Indian and Chinese armies engaged in major clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 2020. Since, relations between the two neighbors have remained tense.

Ex-Indian NSC Member Reflects on Arunachal Clash With Chinese Army

18:38 13.12.2022

Indian army vehicles move in a convoy in the cold desert region of Ladakh, India, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Nestled between India, Pakistan and China, Ladakh has not just faced territorial disputes but also stark climate change. - Sputnik India, 1920, 13.12.2022

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said PLA troops had tried to transgress the de-facto border between India and China, with troops from both countries being injured.

Reacting to the clash in Arunachal Pradesh, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said the situation is “stable” on its border with India.

“As far as we understand, the China-India border situation is stable overall,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, adding that the two sides had “maintained unobstructed dialogue on the border issue through diplomatic and military channels.”

Prof. Bharat Karnad, a former member of India’s National Security Council (NSC) and security analyst, shared with Sputnik his views on the latest incident on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Sputnik: The Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) clashed in Yangtse in Tawang on December 9. The two neighbors are currently engaged in both military and diplomatic talks in order to resolve the border deadlock in Ladakh. Is it possible that the face-off in the Arunachal sector was not an accident?

Bharat Karnad: The Chinese government never does anything that’s not preplanned. The clash in Yangtse, in the Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh, fits the bill.

This is also indicated by the fact that the PLA troops came armed for a fight minus small arms, but with wooden clubs with embedded nails, etc. — weapons of a kind that they previously used in the deadly Galwan encounter two-and-a-half years ago.

Sputnik: Do you regard this as part of a Chinese design to preempt the possibility of a future Dalai Lama being identified at the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama?

Bharat Karnad: China is intent on zeroing out Lamaist Buddhism in Chinese-occupied Tibet (COT) — that’s always been the long-term goal.

This objective has acquired urgency because of the current Dalai Lama’s age, which Beijing fears may prompt His Holiness to name a Tibetan child from the Tibetan exile community in India as his successor. It will mean that China’s attempts to subdue Tibet by integrating it into the mainland’s Han-Communist culture will continue to be complicated.

Sputnik: What kind of preparation — both military and infrastructure-wise — does India have in the Arunachal region? Does it lack capabilities in this particular sector?

Bharat Karnad: The XXXIII Corps — the largest corps in the Indian Army — is responsible for defending the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the northeast.

It is postured to take on the PLA, and is adequately equipped with sufficient stock of prepositioned stores to conduct operations even in the dead of winter, should Beijing choose to initiate hostilities.

Sputnik: Do you consider border tensions along the LAC as a persistent issue?

Bharat Karnad: Keeping the LAC unsettled with minor skirmishes and armed intrusions and otherwise to maintain a high level of tension is the Chinese strategy to keep the Indian army on its toes and tire it out. It’s because maintaining constant vigil at high altitudes is a damnably difficult business.

Such a military strategy is what Beijing employs as a means of pressuring the Indian government into making concessions at the negotiating table.

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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43 Responses to ‘Time to play hardball with China’

  1. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Very well given interview by Dr Karnad

    What is very interesting is that the current tension in Tawang comes when China has begun to mend fences with the US, OZ and Japan. This is reflected by the almost homeopathic US official reaction to this latest incident despite our Defense minister Mr Singh accusing China in parliament “to change the status quo”. I believe the most significant factor here is despite India publicly accusing China of aggression, the reaction against China by the US is muted. So what is the reason here for China to this latest issue with India ?

  2. Ayush says:

    The funny business going on at the LAC is not without any warning.The PLA has deployed 4 additional brigades at the chicken neck,tawang and RALP.They are probably preparing for a campaign in the spring or so.This also explains constant probing of IAFs situational awareness and much improved air defenses using expendable CH-4/5 drones.
    The writing is on the wall.Detonate the 1.5 ton warhead of the A-5 and the 2.2 ton warhead of K-4.A full yield atmospheric test in the Andaman sea will leave no ambiguity regarding the functionality of the thermonuclear weapons.Besides,the massive multi-megaton blasts with the blinding flash and towering mushroom clouds will induce desperately needed shock and awe and frankly pure terror in the minds of the CCP mobsters and their henchman in the CMC.They will know what awaits them—and their families if they actually start full blown kinetic hostilities.The removal of the fear of “escalation” will enable local Indian army commanders to pay back the Chinese in their own coin and seize several critical Chinese posts in localized Galwan-style attacks.Enabling us to kick them out of Depsang(unblocking the Y-junction) and handing out an unambiguous strategic and operational defeat to the CCP regime.
    The fear of “sanctions” should not make us think even twice.The West is clearly reeling from the economic fallout of their proxy war in Europe.Their “unparalleled” sanctions have caused a contraction of no more than 3.7% of Russia’s economy and not the propagandistic “30-40%” predicted by western “economists” in feb-march.They will never dare to impose the sanctions on the fifth largest economy the kind of which they have imposed on Russia.As the latter is still laughing it’s way to the bank and its war factories are literally out manufacturing the entire west combined.

  3. Sankar says:

    I feel the best way to make India’s case on the border intrusion by China for decades now to the external world is to stress on the word “salami” and present the Chinese military tactics as a “salami slicing” of India’s border areas and then lying low for a while and gobbling up. The terminology LAC or LOC and using “perception” confuses the general non Indian public in other nations whereas salami everyone understands and will capture the essence of what is going on. The last Army Chief has done it well that way in his latest interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJOCs_9Gy50.

  4. Ayush says:

    @Bharat/Debanjan
    The disgusting perfidy of the US regarding India/China has long been obvious to the everyone.The US and it’s lapdogs in Europe and Asia(Japan) are nothing more than frenemies at best.The acknowledged rapid depletion of NATO war stocks in their proxy war in Ukraine has made them even more useless to us.The “American cavalry” will never ever be a factor at the LAC.They will do nothing more than airdrop a few machine guns as they did in 1962.It’s a sad state of affairs that we have not one reliable ally.However, the lack of Allies and our current grave predicament at LAC should only reinforce our disregard for “global opinion” and likewise “sanctions”.We have to do what we must to ensure our national survival and sovereignty.The cost-benefit analysis mentioned in my previous post dictates us to test TN’s ASAP.TN’s will provide us with a fail safe insurance.The brutal reality is that we don’t have the time to build up our conventional military.The Chinese are not so naive to allow us to achieve relative military parity with them by the end of this decade.Jaishankar should put his money where his mouth his with hard actions and not just with lip service against the sickening western hypocrisy.TN’s are far more important to us than the US!

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Ayush- I don’t agree with your stand regarding TN’s. Do you seriously think that any government at Delhi will go nuclear against China?

      The answer is a big no even if the Chinese continue with their medieval style incursions every fortnight.

      Nuclear weapons are outdated. No country in the world dare to use them because every nation knows that if it use one against its adversary, it will be hit hard with double the nuclear strikes.

      Biological/Germ warfare are the latest innovation in warfare. Look at the havoc created by the Coronavirus since 2020. Globally majority of the people aren’t even sure whether it was accidental or deliberate.

      Chinese masses hold the American establishment responsible for the aforesaid outbreak. Western block say in hushed tones that the Chinese did it.

      But till now there hasn’t been any clear cut answer about the aforementioned.

      Jaishankar is doing whatever he can in his limited capacity. Everyone knows who holds the real power in the present establishment.

      The decision making is concentrated with two politicians from Gujarat and one long retired career bureaucrat from Uttarakhand.

  5. Amit says:

    Professor,

    I guess there is a human fascination for blood sport – the recent skirmish in Tawang has set off a media frenzy on permutations and combinations. My own interest was kindled after the 2016 Uri attacks and counterattacks.

    However, the kind of skirmish that happened in Tawang will be par for the course going forward with China. China has no interest in starting a war with India and India has no interest in a war with China. These mind games will carry on.

    India will keep its head low and grow its economy and defence industry and infrastructure. SIPRI says India spent $76.6B in 2021 on defence. Thats 2.4% of GDP. If the Indian economy grows at 7% through 2030, that’s ~$6T in GDP and ~$150B in defence spending by 2030. Should be plenty to defend India.

    Also, India seems to have decided that its nuclear firecrackers (as you like to call them), are enough to deter China, with a focus on testing ballistic missiles. If you consider the real threat perception from China, i.e, they don’t have a reason to go to war with India first, maybe this is the right response. Thermo nuclear tests may ensue if threat perceptions change.

    The bloody games between India and China have begun, and the colosseum is packed with 1.4B people from each side!

  6. Sankar says:

    Professor Karnad@:

    There has been always a nagging question in my mind:
    How does the McMahon line which demarcated the border of Tibet with India tally with the LAC ? My guess is that LAC was drawn way inside the original boundary of (British Dominion of) India. In that case China has then already gobbled up huge territory from India ever since it invaded Tibet. It is amazing that Delhi (MEA) uses the term LAC in parliament and in press briefings to imply the past Indian boundary for the gullible public. What will be your opinion in this context?

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Sankar- The central point of the dispute is the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and China comes in for severe criticism for violation of the so-called LAC, which neither exists on the ground nor on any map — and not even on a piece of paper. It is essentially a line of perception, which both countries hold sacrosanct for their own reasons.

      An excerpt from the following;

      https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/resolving-lac-dispute-needs-honest-reassessment-8328690/

      • Sankar says:

        @Gaurav:

        That reference is fundamentally flawed. The merger of Sikkim was a masterstroke of Indira Gandhi and the full parliament of Sikkim had adopted the resolution of the merger with the Indian Union as one of its states. It is utter rubbish to say as in the reference:

        “The Sikkim-Tibet border which was delimited in 1896 and is well defined and recognized by both countries had one snag — China had not accepted the 1975 merger of Sikkim with the Indian Union.”
        China cannot dictate to the Sikkimese that they needed Chinese concurrence for merging with India. Sikkim as one of the Indian states has been rightly registered in the U.N. records.

        Furthermore, A.B.Vajpayee was a bigger disaster than Nehru. He gave in writing to China that Tibet is a part of China in the hope that China would confirm in writing to India that it had agreed to Sikkim’s merger with India. Such a confirmation that never materialized. Professor Brahma Chellaney has analyzed this superbly. Remember that even for all his mistaken policies for China, Nehru had never confirmed in writing to China that Tibet is a part of China.

        It has been documented somewhere (scattered – I have lost the references) that LAC was a trick thrown up by China to the Indian policy makers right after the Sumdorong Chu incident to calm down which India again accepted naively. There have been some map exchanges to mark LAC subsequently. This is also confirmed in American sources. I do not think MEA has undertaken systematic documentation in this regard. That is why I raised the issue. Professor Chellaney could be the right authority here.

        On an aside, I do not think China would have dared to try its foray in Yangtse now, nor the Galwan attack in 2020 with the eventual loss of the Despang plain if Indira Gandhi were at the helm in Delhi now instead of the Hindu Modi.

  7. Kunal Singh says:

    1. But we shd have counter-intrusions as a routine duty.
    2. Is Xi doing this to topple modi.
    3. What to do with our commies/ influential people of neo-liberalist school of thoughts which are in academia,military,intelligence etc
    4. Forget border breach, what about breach in our cyber systems like the recent one in AIIMS(no need of wooden batons/guns/strike corps) , do we have security doctrine in cyber field.

  8. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    @Dr Karnad

    One important phenomenon I believe we are missing out here is the massive and rapid rearming of the Japanese military.

    This one phenomenon could be very detrimental in near future (may be in the upcoming one or two decades) for the whole Asian security architecture.

    Not only China but Russia as well as both the Koreas, Taiwan and countries like Vietnam and Singapore will be pretty adversely impacted by this phenomenon. Even the American hegemony in the Indo-pacific would be negatively impacted by the re-rise of the Japanese military empire.

    It will not make sense to all of us now but I believe the re-rise of the Japanese military empire will create a sort of cold-peace between the US, Russia and the Chinese which in the current conflicts involving Ukraine and Taiwan.

    What are your views on this one ?

    • Have long argued that because nothing spooks the Chinese more than a militarised Japan, that’s the end India should work hard, using whatever means and policy changes, to realize.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        Professor Karnad, in that case policy makers of our country should focus on aligning Indian man power (soldiers in the army) with Japanese technology.

        Japan can never have a large army because of its declining population and Indian technology isn’t even close to the Japanese.

        As the Chinese like to say win-win situation. for India and Japan both in case of the aforementioned.

      • The idea being to get China in a strategic pincer — a militant, nuclearised Japan at the other end.

  9. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    @Karnad

    I agree with your opinion that the Chinese will be very much perturbed by a rising Japanese military empire.

    However Chinese will not be the only one to feel fear.

    A rising Japan will bring trouble for Russia, the two Koreas, Taiwan and a lot of South-east Asian nations.

    Even the US will feel uneasy given the current security structure in the Asia-pacific.

    So I believe a rising Japanese military empire would lead to common cause between China, Russia and the US as well as the two Koreas , Taiwan and a host of ASEAN nations such as the Vietnam, Philippines and Singapore.

    Love your take on this one.

  10. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    I was told today that lots of Hindi news channels in India are spreading the following narrative;

    “Modiji has prevented the Third World War and the use of Nuclear weapons by Russia. Biden has become a big fan of Modiji due to this.”

    I am still wondering whether to laugh 😂 or cry 😢 about the aforementioned.

    • Amit says:

      @Tyagiji,
      While Indian media is a circus and elicits the kind of response you have articulated, there are Rand analysts who have said something similar in the Foreign Policy Magazine (a link to which I shared earlier)…

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Amit- This comment on the link which you posted in the replies section of the previous post is spot on;

        Swiss Franx

        “India has also trained foreign officers in the importance of maintaining civilian control over the military as well as the role of human rights and free media”

        This must be a bloody joke !

        On all indices of what it means to be a liberal democracy, India makes a poor showing. Its treatment of Muslim and Christian minorities and government sanctioned violence against Muslims and Christians seems to have been conveniently forgotten by this author.

        On ever other index worth mentioning such as freedom of the press, rule of law, democracy, separation of powers etc. India has seen a major backsliding under the Modi government. And during the recent clashes between BJP backed Hindutva extremists and Muslims in places such as Leicester, the Indian missions in the Uk seem to take a Hindu-centric view of these conflicts. Indeed, even in India, Muslims in run the risk of getting lynched by cow vigilantes aided and abetted by the lumpen underbelly of the Government.

        New Delhi’s believes that its foreign policy may serve its own short term interests. But clearly, by supporting Russia for arms aid and cheap petrol, New Delhi seems to forget that Russian arms are sub-standard and don’t fare well in the battlefield. And courting Russia for cheap petrol being today might boomerang when China grabs even more Indian territory and the West might remember India’s support for Russia.

        I am not suggesting that India should start supporting the West. No country is a saint, as the saying goes in Hindi, everyone is naked in the public bath house.

        There are no friends in the murky world of international geopolitics.

        Only the most delusional mind can come up with crap of saying that Putin will listen to Modi regarding continuing the war or using nukes.

        India’s so called support of Russia is largely due to Indian forces relying on Soviet era military weapons and hardware.

        China is far bigger market for Russian oil (it doesn’t have much else to offer except oil and natural gas)

  11. Sankar says:

    @Gaurav:
    Further to my previous post, here you will find the true insight into the Tibet-India border as it existed before China invaded Tibet in the first part of the interview by Dr Lobsang Sangay. It gives the precise orientation on historical facts in its bare bones which the GOI is hiding.
    https://www.indiatoday.in/programme/news-today/video/why-is-china-targeting-tawang-2309239-2022-12-14
    Pls go through this piece carefully, I am sure you will get the real picture.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Sankar- As per this interview Dr Lobsang Sangay states that historically India and China never shared any land border.

      India’s border was with Tibet, which China annexed during the 1950’s.

      Considering the aforementioned, what’s the point of even discussing this so called LAC issue with China?

      Wouldn’t it be better if India raises the issue of Tibetan annexation forcefully at all global forums?

      Why hasn’t the Indian establishment done/doing it?

      I would love to hear the views of Professor Karnad and fellow readers on this matter.

  12. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Thanks Sankar for the link. I will watch it tonight.

    Modi is solely responsible for the Chinese intrusions in Tawang.

    His nonsensical statement to Putin, “This is not an era for war” is a subtle message to China that keep doing whatever you wish at LAC. India won’t take any hard, concrete actions.

    Which era in the human history has been free from war?

    The self proclaimed ‘Vishvguru’ urgently need serious lessons in international geopolitics as well as history.

    I clearly remember that after the bloody LAC confrontation of 2020 the Indian army said that in future Indian forces will not hesitate to use the fire power in case of similar attempts by PLA.

    Why then on 9th December India again indulged the Chinese forces in this medieval style of combat with sticks and stones?

    They should have used their guns, a few dead PLA soldiers and China would have permanently refrained from such misadventures.

    • Amit says:

      @Tyagiji, from what I’ve read, it is the Chinese who had to resort to gun shot warnings to stop the fight. The Indian army walloped the Chinese and there may have well been casualties on their side. But it’s China, so one will never know for sure. But anyway, these kinds of incidents will carry on till there is a significant power differential between India and China. China will be stupid to risk a war even now with India as the outcome may not be a clear victory.

  13. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Continued from my previous post;

    The fact of the matter is that the Indian side also doesn’t want any solution regarding the LAC with China. Here’s why;

    1. The army leadership can continue giving shopping list of weapons. We need x, we need y. Everyone knows what happens in all these foreign arm deals. Huge amount of commission is provided by the foreign arm suppliers keeping both the army top brass and the government at the centre happy.

    2. As Sankar rightly pointed out in one of his previous posts that Vajpayee was a bigger disaster regarding China. He was the one who gave it in writing to China that Tibet is a part of China. Nobody asked the Tibetans about their opinion regarding this issue.

    What’s the opinion of Modi, Shah and Doval regarding this step of Vajpayee?

    I am no fan of Nehru but at least he fought a war against the Chinese instead of just being a paper tiger by issuing useless statements.

    3. Practically speaking there is no chance of India stopping exports from China. India is a highly price sensitive market and nobody in the world can beat China when it comes to costing.

    Even if the government were to ban the imports, Indian business owners will find alternative routes of Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar etc. to smuggle Chinese goods into India. Customs and BSF personnel can be bribed easily, no big deal.

    So, welcome to the real world. India China relations will continue the way they are. No changes.

  14. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    @Gaurav Tyagi

    You cannot blame Modiji for playing with the emotions of people in North India for votes. Lets face it every one in this country has done that in the last 75 years of electoral history.

    The fact is that what motivates and titillates the voters in the Indian mainland aka the cow belt are anti-Pakistan hatred and Islamophobia. Period. Modiji is a political genius that he grasped this a long time back and now cashing on it.

    This is the chief reason that our military generals regularly second the govt ministers in claiming the oft-repeated RSS claim of Akhanda Bharat and capturing Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-baltistan.

    Arunachal and Ladakh are completely different matters. This really does not capture the imagination of these people in the cow belt as it does in case for Pakistan and Muslims. Who in the cow belt after all cares about a few barren rocks in the Himalayas called Tawang and Depsang ??? How many of us can even correctly point these places on the map ??

    To conclude, the fault lies in the average cow belt voter who unfortunately determines who sits at the throne in Delhi. Blaming Modiji for capturing this truth and using social polarization to solidify his empire is futile.

    I would love your views on the same.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Debanjan- Your assessment is spot on however, post mid 2020 clash with China has changed the situation completely now the masses even in North Indian cow belt are aware of the Chinese threat.

      If Modi and his sycophants are still sleeping over the aforementioned then the fault lies with the establishment not with the average cow belt voter.

  15. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Dr karnad

    A very interesting piece of news today is the joint Russia-Chinese naval drill near the Taiwan island in the last week of December.

    I believe this is a masterstroke by President Xi Jinfing as a tit-for-tat response to Mr Modi and Biden when it comes the upcoming joint Indo-US military exercises near the disputed Arunachal region.

    This is also a significant message of escalation from China to the Japanese leadership that a 21-st century Meiji Japan will face its two worst enemies China and Russia , fighting against it together.

    I believe this is also a signal from Mr Putin to Modiji that when it comes to his relationship with China, he will prioritize this relationship above his personal relations with Modiji and sequester it from his dealing with Modiji.

    In other words, Mr Putin would happily sell more oil to India and book the profits to build up his military muscle which he will use in future against what he considers potential formidable enemies such as Japan, the potentially best possible all-weather Indian ally in the Asia-pacific region.

    I would love your views on this one.

    Thanks and regards with best wishes
    Debanjan

  16. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Dear Dr Karnad

    Ukraine conflict has shown that India had to choose between the West and Russia. However if the choice needs to be made between Russia and Japan over the re-rise of the Japanese military empire in Asia-pacific , whom will India decide to choose between ?

    I am very interested in your analysis.

  17. Amit says:

    Professor,

    A fascinating debate on the Ukraine war. What I like about Professor Mearsheimer is his willingness to debate with prominent antagonists. This time with Carl Bildt, the ex PM of Sweden. Carl makes some good points but the lingering feeling I had after watching this is that Europe does not want to compromise with Russia. The realists are proposing a compromise as the alternative could be nuclear war. But the bloody Europeans and Americans want the war to continue, under a delusion that they can defeat Russia without destruction! Countries like India need to start putting pressure on the West that a compromise solution is required. Otherwise the blood thirsty Europeans and Americans will drag the whole world down with them.

    • DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

      @Amit

      I believe it is too much premature wishful thinking to expect the West to come to some sort of peaceful co-existence with Russia for the following reasons :

      1. The collective West (US + most of central and Western Europe) believes that the Russians lost the cold war and as the losing party they should not expect any kind of respectable treatment from the collective West.

      2. Moreover over the last 10 months of Ukraine-Russian war, the US military-industrial complex is now deeply entrenched in prolonging this war for their own economic benefits. It is difficult for them to come to their senses now.

      3. Even the Russians now do not expect the West to come to negotiations and they are expecting a long war whereby a collective West conquers parts of Western Ukraine in order to launch “Operation Barbarosa” version 2.0 on Russia. This is an existential fight for the Russians and it seems apparently so for the West also.

      4. I am curious to know what types of pressures India can put upon the collective West (US + most of central and Western Europe) to change their behavior towards Russia. So far India has taken the lead in purchasing oil from Russia however this does not seem to influence the Western behavior towards Russia in any way.

      5. I believe that India is not in the right position to convince the West to change their policies vis a vis Russia. Lets consider this from the Western perspective. India herself needs to come to some sort of accommodation with Pakistan to prevent a two-front war scenario however India is not ready to accommodate Pakistan for the simple reason that India believes Pakistan is the weaker party and should not expect any accommodation from India.

      So even if India decides to put pressure on the West to accommodate Russian interests , the West can always throw the Pakistan example back to India.

      • Amit says:

        @Debanjan, India should, behind the scenes, send clear messages to the US that the war needs to end and some form of a compromise solution is required. People like Carl Bildt, who think that any compromise is a defeat, need to be managed. While India does not have the geopolitical heft currently to impose its will, diplomatic pressure can be applied. The US has got itself tied up in a two front situation and the mad cap cold warriors need to be told that it is not in their own best interests.

  18. Ho Chi Minh says:

    Bharat sir ,please make a YouTube channel discussing these matters as it will help in getting these facts to a larger group of ppl. Your articles provide a unique insight into defense matters.

  19. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    @Dr Karnad

    I believe it is too much optimism on our part for us to expect the West to come to some sort of peaceful co-existence with Russia in order to satisfy India’s interests against China.

    The only way the US and the collective West can accommodate Russia is the emergence of another greater enemy. In the current global circumstances, that can only be either the re-emergence of a Fourth Reich or the re-emergence of another Japanese military empire in the Indo-pacific.

    I would love your views on this particular aspect of mine.

  20. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Several high-profile Russian tycoons have died in mysterious circumstances since the war began;

    An excerpt from the following;

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64101437

    Surely all these deaths cannot be accidental. There’s surely a pattern here.

    Putin’s death squads are on the prowl just like before the Russia-Ukraine war.

    In their latest attack they have hit twice on the Indian soil as well.

  21. Sankar says:

    Here is an interesting pointer for India:
    https://asiatimes.com/2022/12/russia-winning-the-electronic-war-in-ukraine/

    India in my understanding has something to gain from the Russian military technology that she would never get from the West. The lesson needs to go all the way in strategic partnership with the US at the cost of Russia. But there is a dilemma in my mind. What will be the Russian position in the event of a bigger clash erupting on the India-China LAC – will Moscow tilt more to Delhi than to Beijing?

    What will be your assessment, Professor Karnad ?

    • However close Russia feels it needs to get with China in the present conditions, China will always be Russia’s main threat in the Asian part of Eurasia, whence cooperating with India is, and will always be, for Moscow a strategic necessity.

      • Sankar says:

        A great insight, thank you!

        It reminds the flare up at the Ussuri river in the long past (1966-67) when the Red Army needed to pull back its artillery from the East German front facing the NATO and hammered the PLA leading to its hasty retreat.

        But I am not sure that Jaishankar would be in agreement here.

  22. Ayush says:

    @Bharat
    There is word that the recent A-5 test on 16th December(symbolism!) wasn’t any cheap muscle flexing by a third world nation but rather a full fledged HGV test.The A-5 had an all-composite airframe which reduces weight by 20% and obviously enhances range to the ~7000 km range.However, the icing in the cake was the HGV warhead.A true “ICBM” A-5 with HGV aimed at PLA’s Western hills joint command center,ensuring total decapitation of both the PLA and CCP top mobsters will induce tremendous psychological deterrence in the Chinese.
    Do you have any information to confirm the above?Awaiting your early response

    • The A-5 Prime is the missile in question — it met performance specs.

      • Ayush says:

        Did it have HGV?That’s my main question.I have no insider info regarding this aspect and am eager here about it from some outspoken insider like you!

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Ayush- The proof of pudding lies in its eating. In the absence of a strong political will, all military exercises and tests are just show off stunts nothing else.

      “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reputation for toughness and resolve—essential for deterrence—has been tested and found wanting.

      Modi is trapped by his own nationalist rhetoric: Since deadly border clashes in Ladakh in 2020, India’s government has downplayed the border crisis to shield the prime minister’s macho image.

      Modi has avoided any public conversation about China’s border threat. After the Galwan Valley clashes, which killed 20 Indian soldiers, the prime minister said on national television that “no one has intruded into our territory.”

      In Beijing’s view, New Delhi is reluctant to acknowledge any aggressive Chinese actions to prevent embarrassment to Modi, and hesitant to follow through threats out of fear of further escalation.”

      A few excerpts from the following;

      https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/12/23/india-china-border-clash-arunachal-pradesh-deterrence/

      I also know the reason why Modi is so scared of China but Professor Karnad won’t publish it even if I were to write it.

      A hint is enough for a wise person, the answer lies in Modi’s umpteen number of visits to China during his long tenure as the CM of Gujarat.

      Excessive indulgence of those days has shut Modi’s mouth.

      Therefore, there’s no need to get excited by this testing.

  23. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Dear Dr Karnad,

    You are right that both Russia and China have historical animosity with each other however in the present circumstances they have couple of formidable common enemies i.e the US and the re-risen Japanese military empire.

    So in the Indo-pacific region both Russia and China share a common enemy with which they have fought for land and pride over and over in the past. Both also bear terrible losses to the Japanese empires of the past. Even at present both have long-standing and ongoing territorial disputes with the current Japanese state ie Russia over the Kuril islands and China over the Senkaku rocks. Moreover Japan shares an military alliance with the US, the most formidable enemy both Russia and China currently faces.

    Keeping in mind the current geopolitical tensions between the Japanese as well as the US that both Russia and China have developed, I do not see any reason for Russians to leave the embrace of China irrespective of pressure from India. Another additional reasons is that the current Putin-led Russian state has decided to pivot to East which means crucial economic integration with the gigantic Chinese economy. India’s trade with Russia still dwarfs Russian trade with China and most of this Russia-China trade is done by using Renminbi not US dollar. Given these realities I feel it is still too premature for Russia to leave the Chinese embrace for now.

    I would love your expert views on the same.

    Thanks and regards with best wishes
    Debanjan

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