Matters have heated up unprecedentedly along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)- the effective Sino-India border in Eastern Ladakh. China has made an attempt to stab in the back amidst talks for de-escalation at military commanders and diplomatic levels.
Three Indian Army personnel- one Colonel-rank officer and two jawans have given the supreme sacrifice in a scuffle with People’s Liberation of Army (PLA) of China. This is the gravest provocation coming from China, and lives have been lost at the effective Sino-India border for the first time since 1975.
According to sources, no bullets were fired, and therefore, the casualties happened due to scuffles and hand-to-hand combat, or by falling off a cliff.
According to the Chinese State media outlet, Global Times, the PLA has suffered heavy casualties- five PLA soldiers have been slaughtered by the Indian Army and 11 are critically injured. But Beijing is trying to hide casualties now- the Global Times has retracted its statement about the death of five soldiers.
However, a Chinese journalist and Global Times opinion writer revealed the number of casualties on the Chinese side claiming that 5 PLA soldiers were killed in the faceoff.
Global Times, the extended arm of China’s Foreign Ministry, now says that it cannot confirm the number of casualties inflicted upon the PLA. Maybe because counting dead bodies is proving hard for China.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army has stated, “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night (Monday night) with casualties on both sides.”
The Indian Army has also added “casualties suffered on both sides” in the “violent face-off” during the de-escalation process with China in Galwan Valley, Ladakh.
China is clearly the aggressor here, as the ongoing stand-off in Ladakh started after the PLA troops clashed with the Indian Army soldiers in Eastern Ladakh and Sikkim. Again, it was China which tries to escalate matters by flying fighter jets close to the LAC, apart from mobilising troops and moving in heavy weapons- artillery and combat infantry vehicles close to the LAC.
Now, the Chinese soldiers escalated matters while the de-escalation process was going on. And the Chinese Foreign Ministry, as well State media continue to speak in bellicose language in an attempt to flare up tensions even further.
The Chinese foreign ministry Zhao Lijian said, “Our border troops had a high-level meeting and reached important consensus on easing the border situation. But astonishingly on June 15, the Indian troops seriously violated our consensus and twice crossed the borderline for illegal activities and provoked and attacked Chinese personnel which led to serious physical conflict between the two sides.”
Hu Xijin, Editor-in-chief of CCP-run tabloid Global Times, has tweeted “Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it.”
Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) June 16, 2020
Another Chinese media outlet, China Global Television Network (CGTN) has raked up Nepal amidst the casualties on both sides during the violent face-off in Galwan Valley, Ladakh.
CGTN News Producer Shen Shiwei tweeted, “Source confirmed Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash along China-India LAC. India has been provoking territorial issues not only with China, but also Nepal recently.”
Source confirmed Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash along #China #India LAC.
India has been provoking territorial issues not only with China, but also #Nepal recently. pic.twitter.com/KkbRFEKkoe
— Shen Shiwei沈诗伟 (@shen_shiwei) June 16, 2020
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and State-owned media are thus trying to provoke India into a major conflict- the high number of casualties on both sides also suggest that this is not a regular face-off involving fist blows and stone-pelting from both sides. This is several steps higher in the escalatory ladder between India and China.
It is now clear that what is happening in Ladakh is not another Doklam- the stakes are higher and India is getting more assertive.
China is pushing the envelope, and it is very likely that Beijing wants to provoke India for a limited theatre armed conflict.
A variety of factors have contributed to the soaring tensions in Eastern Ladakh. India wants to replace China as the global manufacturing hub, and therefore China wants to cut India to size with an armed confrontation.
But guess what? India isn’t going to hold back either. Chinese aggression has generated only more hostility in India against its neighbour. Going ahead, Indians might no longer want to buy Chinese goods, and Beijing could stare at losing favourable trade equations with India- a 48.66 billion dollars trade deficit against India to be precise.
Modi government on its own part will look to further accelerate the exodus of foreign companies from China which have fuelled the Chinese economic growth thus far.
On the ground level, India is not going to back off- it is likely that the Indian establishment will now construct road infrastructure along the LAC at an even faster rate.
China wants to fight, and India is ready to give it a bloody nose. Direct threats are coming from the Chinese Foreign Ministry and State media, especially from the Global Times. What Beijing must understand is that the global equations are highly unfavourable for it and if the conflict spills into the South China Sea with the Indian Navy entering the strategic waterways, then the Dragon could face huge setbacks on several fronts.