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China vs India

China has been giving warnings right and left on the oncoming border war with India, while India has been downplaying it and very much ignored by the West fixated on North Korea ICBM testing. The facts are obvious to those interested in them. The Tibet border with Sikkim was set in 19th century and undisputed. India annexed Sikkim and very much like to annex Bhutan next. The border negotiation between Bhutan and China has been inconclusive because India has exerted veto over any normalization of relations. China initiated road building on land she controls, and India moved military personnel over the Sikkim border into China, claiming she is doing so on behalf of Bhutan. India demands that China stop the road building before she will withdraw the troops. China has refused the demand. The situation is obviously untenable.
China has been doing live military exercises in Tibetan plateau, and both sides have been re-enforcing border troops. China conducted military parade for the 90th anniversary of the founding of PLA in Inner Mongolia. Yet all the warnings have been fallen on deaf ears. Chinese Politburo is probably meeting in summer beach resort and a decision will be make soon. Obviously any confrontation will affect the Shanghai meeting in September, but I think China will act probably within a week or two and not delay until after the meeting of BRICS.
Scenario I imaged will start with artillery barrage annihilate those invading troops, that is artillery against foreign troops in Chinese territory. When India try to respond by counter barrage, then it automatically become incident for expanded conflicts. The routing of Indian army is not really in question. The question is how far does Chinese troops will advance? Whether China will retake control of areas when she withdraw after 62 war? Whether China will assert air superiority and bomb airfields and support troops. I suspect China will be more restrained after victories and proclaim cease fire, that would disappoint those more nationalistic, but I think China will demand Bhutan be really independent and settle border with her. Modi may beg for American help but with North Korea indigestion Trump will pass.

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  1. August 8th, 2017 at 23:48 | #1

    Here are my personal thoughts.

    Maybe Chinese are chicken. The Indian Media definitely think so. Articles like this (http://www.atimes.com/calling-chinese-bullys-bluff/) from Asia Times echo that sentiment. When Chinese gave in US demands to slap more sanctions on N. Korea … that certainly seems to confirm the sentiment that the Chinese are much weaker than at first seem.

    If so, the Indians have played the game brilliantly. With tactical advantage in the Donglang areas, and with China besieged in the S. China Sea, by S. Korea with THAAD, and by Japan in the East China Sea, Indian strategists feel China doesn’t dare to open another front in the West. Besides India feels they always have the Dalai Lama card, so if things get ugly, it won’t just be a border war, China better be ready for destabilization throughout the Tibetan Plateau.

    Perhaps strategically China is just not ready for a war. It looks like we are talking about a matter of a few hundred feet of incursions on open plain. This whole incident reminds me of a neighbor got a dog to step over my front fence and peed. Yes, I feel violated and I complain, but if he decides to ask his dog to squat there for a few minutes after I complain, am I going to bring a gun out … and do what? Shoot the dog? Shoot the neighbor?

    Alright … so let’s say China decides it’s still worth fighting, what would be the goal? This is a question N. M. Cheung brought up. But is it really just to reverse the strategic mistake of withdrawing from 1962 advances? Should China do more and recapture all the Tibetan lands within India’s control?

    Or perhaps even more, should China help Pakistan liberate Kashmir?

    What about China trying to break up India into smaller states and end the border disputes once and for all? With Hindu nationalism on the rise, there is definitely renewed oomph to the idea that India is oppressive on the many diverse cultures within its territory. Perhaps the British colonial remnant of India as a unified political entity ought really be once and for be consigned to the dust heap of history? But even if morally that is the right thing to do, what does China have to gain? The many smaller states can be more easily bought off by an Imperial nation such as the U.S. One wayward state (think a wayward Vietnam, Phillipines, S. Korea, etc.) is all that’s needed to give China a big headache…

    So what really is the strategic goal of fighting?

    My personal feeling is to have war and win – just win! But strategically I can’t figure out what would be a good win that lasts – short of changing India for good. It all goes back to Tibet, I think. As long as anti-China feelings exist in the exile Tibetan community, I don’t see why China would want to fight … now …

  2. N.M.Cheung
    August 9th, 2017 at 06:13 | #2

    Allen, I have to disagree with you here. On the Korea question, China together with Russia acquiescence on UN sanction because it’s in their interest to do so. China is not going to fight a second Korean War on the behave of Kim Dynasty. Trump and Kim might do their blow hard war of words or degenerate to a real war, but the worse for China is face possible massive influx of refugees.
    As for the India, Modi has been saber rattling to feel his oat. I don’t think you can ignore China’s repeated warnings. Some nationalists deride China’s inaction, but China has her own time table. It takes time for moving heavy rocket forces and artilleries into position. This will be a test for newly modernized and mobile army, and not an infantry charge. The ’62 war was fought even when China face 3 years of natural disaster and policy failure of Great Leap forward, and difficult supply lines. Now with 2 rail lines and other roads, the situation is completely different. Although China didn’t occupy those areas south of McMahon line after victory due to policy consideration it did deter India for over 40 years. The main goal for China is Bhutan, forcing real independence as Nepal is right now. Media in India already reported that Bhutan has denied that Donglong area is disputed and belong to China, so that already cut the leg out from India acting in behave of Bhutan. Xi’s action in South China Sea shows his determination on territorial integrity and China Dream, it’s foolhardy for Modi to test him.

  3. August 9th, 2017 at 06:36 | #3

    I agree wit Allen. The situation is different from the 1960s because present Indian incursions are not armed while at that time armed Indian troops also fired upon Chinese troops. However, to count China as passive is an incorrect assumption. It took China many months to take action, Mao waited until the Cuban missile crisis to seriously wack India, destroying a few brigades in the process and then withdraw. I have no doubt that China will eventually build the roads and India will withdraw its troops. China will either wait it out as the onset of winter is just around the corner or will arrest the unarmed Indian soldiers and release them.
    In 1950, the USSR is much stronger than China but did not commit ground forces to Korea. This doesn’t mean the USSR is chicken but rather they do not view the loss of DPRK and thus US troops at the border a threat. To China, that was a grave threat so Mao acted proportionately. In Ukraine, Russia’s action actually gave the US a pretext to initiate a sanction. In the South China Sea, China never once fired upon unarmed foreign forces or civilian. Vietnam and Philippines have repeatedly done it. China did maul Vietnam forces badly when the latter launched armed incursions both on land and sea.
    Currently, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia occupied islands that China claimed as its territory. It is simply not PRC modus operandi to take those islands back by force with no new provocation. However, bear in mind that only a few months ago that China forced Vietnam to stop any new oil exploration in the SCS. And a few years back, when China is doing surveying Vietnam sent dozens of boats to stop it. Then China simply rammed those boats and still successfully conclude the survey and exploration.

    Some people argued that China actually lost the 1962 war because China never occupied the disputed territory while India did so afterward. However, after that war India never dare crossed the so-called LOC (line of controlled) with armed troops. The area is still in dispute but China will only respond proportionately, this has always been China’s policy since 1949 and actually has been increasingly benign rather than more aggressive as alleged by MSM. In Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan etc, China never flinched from engaging a nuclear power. Did China acted cowardly in the Yinhe merchant ship incident, Belgrade embassy bombing, Hainan collision, the repeated weapon sales to Taipei? What would China achieve if armed action was initiated then?

    In Sun Zi’s text, the ultimate warfare is about strategy (上兵伐谋). Thirty years of peace for China has brought tremendous progress for China despite technology embargo by the US and its allies. Just imagine what another thirty years would do for China and the world. And simply asked ourselves what twenty years of armed action has accomplished for the US?

    Sun Zi wrote his text during the Spring Autumn period, the subsequent Warring States period also ushered in the era of diplomacy is the ultimate warfare (上兵伐交). The state of Qin did not reunify China through sheer military power. Diplomacy is the best policy unless there is no other option.

  4. alanking
    August 9th, 2017 at 22:31 | #4

    I am not saying Xi should start a war with India. But India is at a point where, imo, it could easily start to have many people wanting to break away from it if loses a war badly. Compared to China, her improvements for her citizens for the past 40 years is practically negligible compared to China’s. I didn’t think it would take much of a loss to cause several states to use the opportunity to rebel for good. Unfortunately, India is also a nuclear power, and that throws a giant monkey ranch to any and all “calculations “. Its probably one that Xi is not wiling to make.

  5. August 23rd, 2017 at 22:25 | #5

    So Global Times has this piece on why China cannot try to play game vis-a-vis India to subdivide India.

    After the border standoff between China and India erupted, some Chinese scholars asked: Since India supports “Tibet independence” forces, why doesn’t China play the card of Indian separation?

    This question is premised on a long-standing view that India is a multi-ethnic country, its states retain traditional autonomy, and the forces that led to the partition of India in 1947 could easily rise again. From this point of view, China should seek to use the lever of supporting separatists to influence India.

    This viewpoint is too superficial, and lacks understanding of how the internal unity of modern Indian society was formed. Understanding India should start from understanding Hinduism, and understanding today’s Hinduism needs understanding of the influence of the British colonialists on the revival of Hinduism in modern times.

    Indian scholar Kavalam Madhava Panikkar wrote in his book A survey of Indian history that “Indian history is of necessity, predominantly the history of the Hindu people, for though other and potent elements have become permanent factors in India, the Hindus still constitute over eighty percent of her population. Besides, what is distinctly Indian has so far been Hindu.”

    Traveling in India, one can easily spot scenery that is deeply influenced by Hinduism. Sometimes one would doubt if India is a secular country, as it claims to be. Even behind the border friction between China and India, there is an influence of Hinduism.

    The national structure of India is unique. Some states have maintained their inherited autonomous style of governance and some are ruled by minority parties or non-mainstream ethnic groups. These states have a tendency toward separation.

    But in essence, all the states belong to the big cultural circle of Hinduism. The system established by British colonists has offered opportunities for minority parties and ethnicities to develop under the framework of a united country.

    The revival of the Hinduism can be attributed to the support of British colonists. Under British role, Islam was suppressed and the Hinduism began an unprecedented revival movement. But nationalism went along with this process, which eventually became the pillar of thought of Mahatma Gandhi, who led the independence movement against British colonial rule.

    When the British withdrew, they divided India and Pakistan due to the regions’ different religious beliefs. This brutal division caused the deaths of more than 1 million, and led to destitution for several million people.

    While it reinforced religious confrontation, it consolidated the foundation of nationalism with religion at the core.

    India inherited the system established by British colonists, under which all parties can compete for power through the platform of elections. Local parties can develop into national ones, weakening their tendency for separation. Religion and the political system are the reasons why India for decades has remained chaotic but united.

    Currently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expanding its influence nationwide. It controls 17 states out of 29, either independently or in the form of a coalition government. In the election in March this year, the BJP won a sweeping victory in the most populous state Uttar Pradesh. The basis of the rise of the BJP is Hindu nationalism.

    However, nationalism is a double-edged sword. In addition to the conservative nature of Hinduism and the stability of the system, nationalism has become an obstacle for India to get rid of the constraints of religion and tradition and realize modernity.

    Today, the Indian-style stability that is trapped in the contradiction between tradition and modernity and between secularism and religion has become an important starting point for the outside world to understand Modi’s reforms. This Indian-style stability is also embedded in India’s China policy and the Indians’ understanding of China’s rise.

    Therefore, dividing India may not be an appropriate strategic option. This may only consolidate the foundation of national awareness that India is built on – religious nationalism.

    The author is a senior editor with People’s Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. dinggang@globaltimes.com.cn.

    That’s similar to my feel…

    My sense is not that India is that strong … but that China really doesn’t have that much influence in South Asia … (at least not yet)….

    India for now is emboldened to do what it pleases …

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