Dealing with Chinese deception
China will continue with its deceptive games on all fronts... militarily, diplomatically and wherever the Chinese have a listening front
After an uneasy silence we received the joint statement which emanated out of the Chushul Talks between Indian and Chinese Commanders held on 12th October. And the stalemate continues because the punch line reads, “Both sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible.”
This clearly shows no worthwhile attitudinal shift in the Chinese Regime. Confronted by initiatives of Indian troops occupying ridges on the South Bank in the vicinity of the PangTso lake , the PLA troops have seemingly backed off whilst they continue to harp on removing Indian positions at Mukhpari, Rezang La and Renchin La. Because, one can envision that from these heights the troops deployed look directly at the Chinese fortifications.
The situation obviously worries Chinese military leaders because if their troops carry out any military misadventure against India, the Indian Army, tactically deployed at Depsang Southwards, will stop them in their tracks and nullify their gains.
But as reports go, there is no abatement in building infrastructure by the PLA troops on their side of the Line of Actual Control. Specialized Winter Houses energetically constructed by Chinese Engineering Teams have been spotted by foreign imaging satellites. Yet it is not sure whether these structures will be useful in supporting an armed conflict.
Nevertheless, they already have war fighting fortifications in the rear along with the tanks and field artillery.
It conforms to my assessment made a month ago that it is as if that the Chinese do not wish to enlarge the conflagration and are quite content with their new positioning all along the LAC. Thus their deceptive games will continue on all fronts---militarily, diplomatically and wherever the Chinese have a listening front.
But India is prepared to meet any challenges; a very brisk deployment by the Indian Air Force has been very well recognized by the PLAAF. Even while they have superiority in numbers, they may not have the potential in terms of experience for managing the ingredients of the Aerial Warfare envelope consisting of Aerial Weapon Delivery Platforms, Detection Systems, Air Defence Systems and Air Operations at large.
The Chinese military officials must be knowing that the IAF men have honed up the art of aerial warfare by participating in exercises with several Air Forces of the World including the USA, Russia, France, UK, Oman and practically all members of the ASEAN.
The well-publicized fact that the IAF took its Aerial Combat Teams to USA, twice, to participate in exercise ‘Red Flag’ and achieved formidable success would not have gone unregistered by the Chinese military officials. They must have made copious notes on IAF’s gargantuan exercise ‘Gaganshakti’ held in 2018.
Similarly, the news about combat ships of Indian Navy participating in exercises with members of the QUAD-- Japan, Australia and the US--in the South China Sea would have given a salutary message to the Chinese military officials.
They may have taken note of the recent “Unmasked” discussion in Tokyo of Foreign Ministers of the Quad, the brainchild of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former Prime Minister who wanted “the region’s main democracies to step up cooperation to counter increasingly assertive China and for a rule based international order.” In a major diplomatic jolt to China, Germany has also decided to focus on maintaining stronger partnership with democratic countries. “We want a global order that is based on rules and international cooperation, not on the law of the strong,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
China worries the rest of the world not merely because of the scale of its military build-up, but its attitudes and therefore “the growth of China's military power”, must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing global friction.
Writing in length about the rise of China in the Tragedy of Great Power Politics in 2010, American political scientist John Mearsheimer had argued that that there is no way to accurately predict China’s current or future intentions, that it is difficult to distinguish between China’s defensive and offensive military capabilities and that China’s past peaceful behavior is an unreliable indicator of future behavior. According to him, China singularly espouses single minded pursuit of power of one’s own nation over others.
Let us go back to November 1950 and read through the lines written by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel , India’s Deputy Prime Minister and the Home Minister in a letter to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister. Sardar Patel had written, “The Chinese Government has tried to delude us by professions of peaceful intention. My own feeling is that at a crucial period they manage to instill into our Ambassador a false sense of confidence in their so-called desire to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means. There can be no doubt that during the period covered by this correspondence the Chinese must have been concentrating for an onslaught on Tibet. The final action of the Chinese, in my judgment, is little short of perfidy. The tragedy of it is that the Tibetans put faith in us; they choose to be guided by us, and we have been unable to get them out of the meshes of Chinese diplomacy or Chinese malevolence”.
Prashant Dikshit is a retired Air Commodore who was awarded Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry during the 1971 war.