India & China ‘escalate tensions’

Since the border conflict between China and India in May, India has fortified troops and tank regiments in Ladakh, and such armored deployment is aimed at containing the PLA movement in the area, Indian media Business Standard reported on August 3.

A survey of India Today-Karvy Insights Mood of the Nation (MOTN) also suggest that nearly 60 percent of respondents agree that India should go to war with China over the border conflict, India Today reported on August 7, after local media the Hindustan Times, citing a recent Harvard University assessment, claimed that India has the upper hand in military deployments along its border with China, and has closed the military gap with its neighboring country.

Chinese analysts said Indian military forces have some advantages in the border regions in terms of quantity, because it has a better geographical environment. But China can immediately transport huge amounts of troops by its advanced infrastructure like high-speed railways to the border region once China decides to retaliate. And the combat capability of the PLA is much more advanced than Indian troops; so in a real war, India might get a head start, but China will soon overturn it.

Chinese experts also said India’s move to increase its military presence in the border regions, even crossing the LAC to incite more tensions, is unhelpful to deescalating  tensions, while China is trying to cool down the situation through patience.

Since Galwan Valley skirmish in June, the PLA has held a series of intense and multidimensional drills, while the two sides have been pushing forward diplomatic and military talks to ease the situation. Last week,  two J-20s, the most advanced stealth fighter jets of the PLA Air Force, were spotted at an airport about 300 kilometers from the border region, foreign media reported, but Chinese experts suggested that foreign media not over-interpret such a deployment as China wants to deescalate the tensions.

“As far as I know, the magnitude of the latest conflict was not the same as the incident on June 15. No casualties, no bloody confrontation,” Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday. The situation has also been eased, but as the 6th round of military talks would soon be held, such hype on rising conflicts may serve as some leverage for negotiations, he noted.

Over the past two months, China and India have held several rounds of senior military-level talks, and agreed to disengage frontline troops. The Hindu reported last week that as the standoff along the LAC in eastern Ladakh entered its 17th week, the two sides were preparing for another round of military talks to resolve the disputes.

Xie Chao, an assistant professor on Indian studies at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday that a sharp contrast could be interpreted from the latest statement from India and what the Chinese FM said. It also shows that India continues to hold a hostile and accusatory altitude on the border conflict, while China is mild and restrained.

For a long time, India has been fortifying troops on the Indian side of the border, especially since May. However, China has not followed suit, only maintaining necessary military deployment in case of an emergency, Xie said.

Given the complex history of the China-India border, the two sides have different understandings of the LAC, but have a complete set of procedures and agreements to resolve differences, Xie said, adding that “Such groundless accusations by India will not help the efforts of the two sides to cool down the tense border situation.”

Chinese analysts warned that India should have a clear understanding that China is much stronger militarily than India. If New Delhi continues such provocative rhetoric, or launches large-scale attacks at the border region, it would face severe consequences.