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India China Border Clash: Tables Turned Along LAC? By Nirendra Dev

Attaining tactical advantage in Southern and Northern banks of the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh indicate major shift in positioning of Indian army

Months of India-China border clash seems to be taking a new turn with Indian troops visibly consolidating their positions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China,  offering lot for Indian army to cheer about.

For long, it was presumed that for China, the military strategies are a way to keep India in check. Has the table been turned now?

A New Face of Indian Army?

Military strategists believe a lot has changed in the last few days. What has definitely come to light is a new face of the Indian government and perhaps more importantly, the “New Face” of Indian army.

It is truly a case of ‘India ups the ante’ kind of moment and has come at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping does not face many happy moments in his domestic politics.

Experts believe New Delhi has never treated the LAC syndrome as seriously as it has treated the LoC along Pakistan.

There could be historical and geopolitical reasons. But the Indian army never risked doing something that they have done in the latest round of military engagement.

Indian forces have taken over strategically vital heights on both Southern and Northern banks of the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh. The task achieved by the commando force called the Frontier Force.

For the first time since the border stand-off – first in 2017 at Doklam and in May-June this year, the Indian army has taken an offensive position.

The official version that Indian forces ‘outsmarted’ the Chinese PLA by foiling their attempts to cross over and also launched measures to take over the posts and heights which the enemy was eyeing, says all about the changed stance.

The impact is serious especially in terms of morale boosters for Indian forces and Chinese are definitely going to feel embarrassed about it. For the Chinese dispensation it would indeed be difficult to admit and justify it to its home crowd.

One thing is possible on the part of PLA now, they may resort to some face saving gestures and occupy some ‘vacant lands’ presuming that could give them some advantage.

Pragmatically, India has to be ready for this.

But it goes without saying that the Indian army has ventured into the ‘unoccupied’ areas which gives India a “tactical advantage”.

An army source in Delhi maintained, “Indian troops pre-empted PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen its positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground”.

It may be noted that the ‘fresh attempt’ by China to change the status quo in the Pangong lake area is the first such episode after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15 this year in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. According to some estimates, the Chinese side also suffered casualties of at least 35-40 of its personnel.

Meanwhile, both at the military level and also diplomatically, India and China have held several rounds of parleys in the last two-and-half months, but there has been hardly any significant headway.

It is also whispered in certain galleries that China is only indulging the pretence of a dialogue and is keen to open border troubles with India especially in the context of domestic challenges faced by Xi Jinping.

“The actions and behaviour of the Chinese side since earlier this year along the LAC has been in clear violation of the bilateral agreements and protocols concluded between the two countries. Such actions are also in complete disregard to the understandings reached between the two Foreign Ministers as also the Special Representatives,” MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava has said.

Xi Jinping’s Domestic Troubles

Meanwhile Cai Xia, who taught at China’s elite Central Party School for top officials and was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in mid-August, says “Under the regime of Xi, the Chinese Communist Party is not a force for progress for China. In fact, it is an obstacle to China’s progress”.

“I believe I am not the only one who wants to leave this party. More people would like to withdraw or quit this party,” Cai Xia said.

Xi Jinping cannot really ignore the troubles that are staring his face back home. Firstly, Chinese banks are bleeding and China may run short of food. To top it all, its oil companies are on slippery route.

Five leading banks have reported record decline at least in decade and down by at least 10-12 percent year on year.

“Banks are not at fault per se. The Chinese government is making the banks pump in money into the market and for consumers so that the impact of Covid19 is softened,” says an Indian observer in the know of things.

The ‘food crisis’ is serious as the President Xi himself has said that people should consume less.

From New Delhi’s point of view, the timing of China’s internal disasters could not have come at a better time.

One strategist therefore quite eagerly says, “From distance, we see wrong decisions are being made in Beijing….But Xi Jinping is no longer surrounded by right advisors. Thus wrong decisions continue unabated and as if there is a vicious cycle and that’s out of control for Jinping”.

But India also needs to be cautious. Firstly, China will not like to sit idle and leak its wounds.

Secondly, from a military strategic point of view, Indian army needs to ensure that the new position the forces have occupied must be retained specially in adverse geographical conditions during the ensuing winter.

Chinese Apps Ban

Meanwhile, during these complicated times and amidst efforts of de-escalation through border talks. Indian government on Sept 2, banned as many as 118 China-linked mobile apps, including the widely popular game PUBG.

In June earlier this year, India had outlawed a number of mobile apps, including TikTok, UC Browser and Tencent’s WeChat over what was stated India’s national security concerns.

Notably, even Congress leader Ahmed Patel had ‘welcomed’ the Modi government move to ban Chinese apps. “In light of the grave intrusion on our territory and the unprovoked attack on our armed forces by the Chinese army, we expect our government to take more substantial and effective measures,” he has had said.

(Nirendra Dev is author of books including ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’ and writes on strategic and foreign policy issues) 

(The views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion, beliefs and view point of the owners of asiannewsmakers.com)

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