China’s failure to push around the Indian troops in the Line of Actual Control (LAC) means that the ability of Chinese President Xi Jinping to intimidate anyone has reduced.
In an opinion article for Newsweek written by Gordon G Chang, a lawyer and commentator, the Chinese President has risked his future with the failed high-profile incursions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into more areas of the LAC, the border between India and China.
The writer says that Xi is the “architect” of these aggressive moves into India and the Chinese troops have unexpectedly flopped.
The failures of the Chinese Army at the LAC will have consequences and will give Xi an excuse to pick up the pace of replacing adversaries in the armed forces with loyal elements.
However, these failures motivate Xi, who as chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, is the leader of the PLA, to renew his bid to launch another offensive against Indian positions.
In early May, Chinese troops advanced south of the LAC in three separate areas in Ladakh. With the boundary poorly demarcated, Chinese forces have trespassed into Indian positions for years, especially after Xi was appointed the party’s general secretary in 2012.
Cleo Paskal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Newsweek that large-scale manoeuvres in Tibet were not preparations for such a move.
In June, China and India were engaged in a violent face-off in Galwan Valley. Chinese troops killed 20 Indian soldiers in a premeditated move and the clash was the first deadly confrontation between the two countries in 45 years.
While the Chinese side is thought to have suffered 43 casualties in the Galwan face-off, the number could exceed 60, according to Paskal.
Late last month, for the first time in a half-century, India launched an offensive against China, taking back strategic points the Chinese recently grabbed. The offensive took the Chinese forces aback and they retreated.
Chang, the writer, says that China’s subsequent efforts to counter India has proved ineffective. For now, Indian troops, in the southernmost of the three areas of Ladakh, are under its control, which was once in Chinese hands.
“India is not giving the invaders the opportunity to improve. Both sides have just accused the other of violating decades-old rules of engagement by firing warning shots. It appears, however, the Chinese are the ones closer to the truth: India”s troops are displaying newfound boldness,” the author says.
“The game has changed. You can say the Indians are more aggressive or more aggressively defensive, but they are in fact bolder and better,” Paskal told Newsweek.
According to Jayadeva Ranade, a former senior Indian intelligence official and now head of the New Delhi-based Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, Xi who has now faced a setback, now needs a “victory” and could force further conflict in Ladakh.
Richard Fisher of the Virginia-based International Assessment and Strategy Center told Newsweek that the Chinese, in that conflict, could roll out “joint mechanised warfare for which they have been preparing for 30 years.”
With the rapid buildup of Indian forces and their high-state of readiness, Xi is not assured of the success he needs, especially as India has brought its own mechanised vehicles to Ladakh, according to Ranade.
“PLA leaders begin to see little choice but to undertake offensive military actions to avoid becoming a victim of Xi’s internal terror,” Fisher says.
“What we are learning in 2020 is that Xi wants victories, and as the PLA is judged to have reached requisite levels of strength by rearming and reorganization, Xi is increasingly willing to use the military,” Fisher adds.
Xi has shown that he is good at the political mobilisation of the army and can spend huge amount on military equipment. He has also perfected the art of intimidating other countries. However, the Chinese President has yet to show his military in a fight and is worth a damn.
“Unfortunately, it looks like China’s leader, who had looked invincible, now has something to prove. As a result, he appears absolutely determined to make his point by launching another attempt to break India apart,” Chang says adding that other countries will take cognisance that Chinese military is deficient.