Leh: Since May 2020, India and China have been engaged in a military standoff in Ladakh. The standoff drew its first blood at Galwan wherein 20 Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives while protecting Indian soil but not before killing around 35 to 40 PLA soldiers. Thereafter, both sides have deployed an impressive array of military equipment, tanks, heavy artillery, special forces units, fighter jets.
The standoff has prolonged even beyond the expectations of the PLA and the Chinese leadership. Presently both Nations have deployed around 60,000 soldiers on either side of LAC. Therefore, the total number of soldiers in the current military standoff has crossed more than 1,30,000 which makes it the largest military standoff between two Nations since the 1962 Sino Indian war. Even during the 1962 Sino Indian War, no single theatre has witnessed such intensive deployment of military forces from both sides as seen in present-day Ladakh.
As per the analysts, the Chinese Army was probably aiming to subdue India and divert the attention on internal audiences as well as to stop global outcry for being the genesis of the COVID-19 virus. With this aim, PLA set on a misadventure in Ladakh in which just for 4-8 kilometers of territory China entered into a military standoff with India hoping for an early victory. However, to the utter surprise of the Chinese side, the Indian Army responded with sheer resilience and determination to safeguard its territorial integrity and ensure its sovereignty. This determination was on display at Galwan wherein Chinese casualty figures were just double the Indian numbers.
After Galwan, things took a dramatic turn as Indian not only mirrored the Chinese troop deployments but also went one step further on 29 -30 August 2020 Indian Army staged a preemptive strike and captured vital peaks in the Chushul sector that were well covered in Guarding India article. This historical event turned the tide in India’s favour as now China is asking for more discussion and withdrawal of forces from frontiers.
In fact, the Chinese Army has found itself in uncharted waters as they were hoping for a quick showdown and early disengagement but what has resulted in what are the worst military disasters for China is the fact for the first time in Chinese history PLA is forced to hold defences against a near-peer adversary.
The deployment in Ladakh should bind a considerable number of PLA troops therefore reducing the expeditionary capability of the Chinese Army on the other friend’s fronts. For example, if China wants to invade Taiwan now it has four/five lesser divisions at its disposal than what it earlier had.
The second and perhaps most significant development has been that by bullying India, China has suddenly awakened other nations like Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines against the rising Chinese belligerence. The recent Chinese actions in Ladakh has led to increased calls for establishing an Asian NATO-like organization against Chinese military adventurism.
The astonishing fact is that under President Xi Jinping China has simultaneously challenged every neighbour and changed every rule in the rule book. China has shown the least regards for any International protocols be it the South China Sea or Ladakh as China has always tried to bully others by its military might. However, its worst mistake was provoking India. Since the past few years, nations like Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam have been quite proactive and vocal against China. India on the other hand was a bit reluctant and was taking the moderate approach. However, after Chinese incursion in Ladakh, the Indian position has now changed and Indian is now firmly against China.
Unlike China’s previous rivals, India has the world’s second-largest army and can easily tame PLA as China shares more than 4,000 kilometres of borders with India in the most inhospitable terrain on the earth. If the Chinese Army is dragged into this conflict and is forced to take defences along the Indian border then in coming years the 2.2 million troops will not be enough for the Chinese defence needs.
In this fight, India will be helped by other like-minded powers both in terms of technology as well as in terms of investments but things will not be the same for China as foreign companies have already started winding up from the Chinese mainland. Already nations are rising up against the corrupt trade practices of Chinese companies and the flawed currency regulatory mechanisms of China that help its export. In the future, these factors will come into play leading to declining of the Chinese economy in a way that has not been envisaged. The present Chinese military might is financed from the money that China has generated as being the world factory and if this decisive advantage is taken away from China the expansion of the Chinese Army will surely be curtailed.
Therefore, after considering all possibilities Team Guarding India hopes that China realizes its mistake and aims for an early settlement of the Ladakh dispute as even going for a limited war will severely undermine the Chinese interests. Even in case of limited war, a more seasoned Indian Army can easily destroy the Chinese Army which is yet to witness a harsh winter and unlike 1962 China can not start preparing for war as it has already fired its first shots. So please don’t be surprised if you are listening to Chinese diplomats calling for peace.