DISCLAIMER: This article is not written with the intention of war-mongering, instead just an attempt to quell the unnecessary fear which an ordinary citizen of India has when it comes to China. The article is written to make a layman understand that there is nothing to fear.
In the twenty-first century, especially in the times of uncertainty, the last thing anyone wants is a war between two ‘Nuclear Armed Nations’. A crisis stricken Chinese economy and a rising Indian economy surely do not want to go to war which would harm both the economies in the short run – crashing markets and leading to absolutely unnecessary inflation. But with the border issues heating up and with intimidating statements from China, it seems it might take an ugly turn.
India over centuries has been a country which has tried to avoid bloodshed, but has not turned its back when invaders came to its shore. We have always fought to protect our land, and shall always continue to do so. Since the loss of 1962, China has often been showed as a ‘1000 pound gorilla’ which is invincible and this has been carved into the psyche of an average Indian. But, what the same historians won’t talk about is the defeat it faced in 1967 and how it ran out of options in 1987 – ‘Operation Chequerboard’, and had to withdraw troops from the Chinese border. The fear of China emanates from the propaganda it promotes through their state-run media and is caught by the Indian media without analyzing. Indians have woken up to the fact that China is the true rival of India and not Pakistan which is more like an annoying fly. It has been supporting Pakistan with weapons and funding to destabilize India from the west, and China itself is helping insurgents in the North-East as reported by the Indian Intelligence Agencies. But now amidst the border disputes ‘Global Times – a Chinese Daily’ has openly supported for promoting insurgency in the region.
The ‘People’s Liberation Army’ or better known as the PLA, is a branch of the ruling party of China – ‘Chinese Communist Party’, swearing allegiance to it. They are not genuinely a National Army per se, as attempts to nationalize the Army have utterly failed. There have been a few demands that the PLA should also be responsible to the ‘People’s Republic of China (PRC) rather than just the ‘Chinese Communist Party’ (CCP), but that’s another debate altogether. Some may wonder why this is relevant. It is so because, almost all Armies across the globe swear allegiance to the ‘Constitution’ and the Country from where it draws its motivation to fight and stay guard on the border, but an Army fighting for a party will not draw the same inspiration. Yes, this too can be countered, but we shall leave it at that. The PLA is riddled with corruption charges by the higher officers, something which is again a demoralizing factor for the lower rung personnel.
Now let’s dive into some necessary points on defence and where each country stands. Of late, the media is showing the humongous number of physical assets the PLA, PLAN and PLAAF have which is making way for fear to creep in, in the already afraid minds. These nos. are not necessarily to be taken into account unless there is a chance of total war, if which would be the case, would lead to a lot more than partial annihilation of both the countries, if not total. So, this is just seen from the prism of a limited war, i.e. at the borders.
The First advantage of India is the operational experience in theaters of war. Our Soldiers have a day in – day out experience in Kashmir fighting insurgency, and the NE being no different. Whereas, the last war China has fought was in 1979 – the ‘Sino-Vietnamese War’, and since have not faced any credible threat.
Second major point often raised nowadays is the Chinese infrastructure build up across the border, and no solid response from our side. Well, one of the least looked into aspects of border warfare in the Indo-China context is the terrain of the region. The geographical terrain is such that it is not easy to build infrastructure either side of the immediate border thanks to the mighty Himalayas. The infrastructure developed is in the interior Tibet, and transporting necessary supplies and fighting men would be one hell of a task, unless they have stationed somewhere near, but highly unlikely due to the geographical terrain.
PS: I would suggest you to please the check the terrain yourselves to understand the difficulty of the terrain, as all you need is a computer and a good internet connection.
Whereas, the Indian Army has a separate fighting strength under the Eastern Command which is headquartered in Kolkata, making it easier for us to provide necessary replenishment to meet emergency needs at the border.In terms of acute shortage, necessary reserves can be called upon.
Thirdly, In mountainous warfare, especially in the chilly heights of the Himalayan region, it is the Air Force which is generally ignored, but is most important. Our Air Force is strong in the region and more than capable of providing necessary back-up to the on-ground soldiers. Whereas, Chinese fighting force is located far away from the border to concentrate on the other probable threats due to US-Japan-Korea axis. It is important to note that the majority of the Chinese population is in eastern region than the western region, making it give imperative to the protection of that region. This distance is helpful for India, as time is the most important factor in warfare and with the advantage of it, we can turn a few disadvantages into advantages which could tilt the war to our favor.
Credit: I would like to thank Dr Shiv Shastry, who has got me interested in Indo-Sino relationship, especially the Military one. This article wouldn’t have come into shape without reading his posts.