Until two years ago, China loved to claim that if India did not behave as expected (Beijing), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could repeat the border war of 1962.
At the end of October 2017, as a consequence of the Doklam episode, Sina.com published an album of photos showing ill-equipped and unprepared Indian troops who “dared to attack General Zhang Guohua’s superiorly trained Chinese troops.” According to Beijing, this gave Chairman Mao no choice but to ‘fight back’ and kill thousands of Jawans and Indian officers.
As early as 2017, the PLA had the first inkling that the current Indian military was not the one of the 1960s, and more importantly, the current political leadership does not dream of a Hindi-Chini brotherhood.
When Beijing pledged to change the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh in May 2020, an additional message was sent to communist leaders in the Middle Kingdom; today India is ready to defend itself if attacked.
Can China repeat 1962?
This is the question many commentators are asking.
Amit Bhandari, a senior fellow at the Indian Council on Global Relations writes: “A weaker and more belligerent China?” He observes: “Not everything seems to be going well with heaven’s mandate. China’s economy appears to be facing several problems in the key industries of real estate, banking and technology. This could explain China’s saber rattling over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. With the economy in turmoil, ‘protecting core interests’ offers the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a way to look good to its national audience and divert attention from pressing issues at home.”
Beijing could turn belligerent, but the Indian Army in 2022 is fully prepared to counter any eventuality from the North; this was demonstrated during the last two years in Ladakh. Therefore, Beijing should think twice before threatening India with a repeat of 1962.
A stronger diplomatic position
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has repeatedly said that the state of the border will determine the state of the India-China relationship, adding that for ties to return to a positive trajectory and remain sustainable, they must be based on in the three mutuals: mutual sensitivity. , mutual respect and mutual interest: “We can reasonably expect Asia to continue to grow because economic and demographic trends point in that direction. How split it is depends on how well or poorly its fissures are handled. And this, in turn, would require compliance with laws, regulations and rules. To begin with, sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected. The initiatives that impact the region must be consultative, not unilateral”.
This type of declaration, more than a hypothetical meeting with Xi Jinping in Samarkand (which in any case did not take place) has probably forced China to accept a partial withdrawal at Patrol Point (PP15), in the vicinity of the Gogra- Hotsprings. The withdrawal of Indian and Chinese troops “is conducive to peace and tranquility in the border areas,” said a joint statement issued in Delhi and Beijing.
But while Beijing greeted the PP15 disengagement as “a positive development,” it reiterated that it would not accept India’s demand to restore the status quo prior to China’s transgressions, saying “the status quo of April 2020… was created by India’s illegal crossing of the Line of Actual Control [LAC]”; an obvious lie.
Could there be another conflict?
A first question: Where could China attack India?
Certainly not in Ladakh, which is slowly stabilising, but Arunachal Pradesh is worth looking at, where there are some traditional ‘disputed sites’: Khenzimane, Yangtse in the Tawang sector; Tsari/Subansiri area, Fish Tails and Dichu ridge in Anjaw district.
Among these, only the Fish Tails area, south of the border on the map, due to a cartographic error in the early 20th.the century, remains difficult for India to access (and defend).
According to india today, “Residents of Arunachal Pradesh’s Anjaw district have recorded videos showing China’s PLA personnel and machinery carrying out construction work near Hadigara-Delta 6 in Chaglagam.” It usually takes four days for a person to reach Chaglagam, the last administrative post in the district near LAC in the vicinity of Fish Tail II.
However, the Indian Army is taking steps to defend the nation’s territory.
Press Trust of India recently noted that the Army has begun to ‘refocus’ and ‘rebalance’ its forces across the LAC in the Arunachal Pradesh sector: “The steps the Army is taking to boost its overall combat readiness come in the midst of military confrontation of more than two years with China in the east of Ladakh”.
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The agency said that “from building roads, bridges, ammunition depots to bolstering its air assets and surveillance apparatus, the army is also increasing military infrastructure on a war footing for faster mobilization of troops in the RALP. strategically sensitive (Rest of Arunachal Pradesh). ) region.”
The General-Officer-Commander (GOC) of the 2 Mountain Division, Maj Gen MS Bains, explained that the Army’s focus “has completely shifted to the border with China and that almost all counterinsurgency operations that previously involved the force are now being carried out by Assam Rifles in the region”; At the same time, up to 990 villages in five districts of Arunachal Pradesh have been identified under the dynamic villages programme. This should definitely cool down any Chinese heats, if any.
Intensive infrastructure development
It is another factor that should dissuade the EPL from ‘trying their luck’.
In a few months, the Sela tunnel project will enable faster deployment of troops and weapons to forward areas in the Tawang sector; it is expected to be completed by the end of the year at a cost of Rs 700 crore.
The area witnessed the famous Battle of Nuranang during which Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat of the 4 Garhwal Rifles fended off two PLA charges on November 17, 1962. During a third intrusion, a Chinese Medium Machine Gun (MMG) had approached to the Indian defenses. , Rawat, along with Lance Naik Trilok Singh Negi and Rifleman Gopal Singh Gusain volunteered to subdue the MMG.
Although seriously wounded, Rawat managed to return with the captured weapon; the battle resulted in 300 Chinese casualties; he was later killed. He was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second highest award for bravery. The point to remember is that the Indian soldier is still a first class fighter.
The Sela Tunnel, announced by the government in 2018, will be the world’s longest two-lane tunnel above 13,000ft, cutting travel time to Tawang by over an hour and, more importantly, , will provide all-weather connectivity.
The Kolkata-based Army Eastern Command recently launched a series of civil-military adventure activities along the India-China border from Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh; a total of 20 activities that include mountaineering, cycling, rafting and trekking are planned for 78 days from August to December spread across the northern border.
According to the Eastern Command press release, it involves a mountaineering expedition from Mount Jongsong in the far west of Sikkim to a trekking expedition to Doma via Jachep La at the crossroads of India, China and Myanmar. Generally, these types of exercises help to create a greater symbiosis between the civilian population and the army, which is essential in the event of a conflict.
Tourism promotion in border areas is also one of the objectives of adventure activities.
a new airport
Arunachal Pradesh will soon have a new airport; Hollongi’s new greenfield airport is located in Itanagar, the state capital. In an area of 4,100 m2, it will have capacity for 200 passengers during peak hours. The new airport’s runway is 2,300m and works well for a Boeing 747 aircraft. Developed by the AAI at an estimated cost of Rs 645 crore, it will be energy efficient. Currently, the closest airport to Arunachal Pradesh is Lilabari Airport in Assam.
By the way, since 2021 a DO-228 aircraft connects remote locations of Mechuka, Tuting, Vijaynagar, Ziro, Pasighat and Tezu.
Perhaps more than these new developments that are important, it is the high level of preparation and professionalism of Indian officers and troops that this columnist recently witnessed during a visit to the Tawang sector.
Today, no one is willing to tolerate Chinese adventurism and like their colleagues in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army and Air Force are fully prepared to repel any Chinese attack in the northeast; 1962 is a long way from today.
The writer is a noted author, journalist, historian, Tibetologist, and China expert. The opinions expressed are personal.
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