There are no signs yet that the tense border stand-off between India and China will ease off any soon. India has gained a strategic advantage by occupying all the important heights along the Eastern LAC which has flummoxed China. As winter rapidly approaches, a scared China is running a propaganda campaign in a desperate bid to make India back-off as it knows that the PLA troops stand no chance in the unforgiving Himalayan winter.
Whenever the Chinese Communist Party and its supreme leader, Xi Jinping is cornered, it unleashes its propaganda mouthpiece, Global Times to display a false sense of bravado to the world. At a time when India has occupied all the important heights along the LAC, with the winter fast approaching, Global Times has resorted to spreading propaganda about how the PLA troops are better prepared to handle the unforgiving winter.
As S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, Global Times ran an editorial titled, “Talks with India come with war preparedness” where it falsely claims that China is much better prepared for a winter war than India. Editor in Chief of Global Times, Hu Xijin, released a video where he claimed that, “the PLA’s frontline soldiers can enjoy hot meals once winter reaches the plateau. Some sympathize with the nearby Indian soldiers who can only eat cold canned food and have to endure the severe cold and potential spread of COVID-19.”
With these drones, the PLA’s frontline soldiers can enjoy hot meals once winter reaches the plateau. Some sympathize with the nearby Indian soldiers who can only eat cold canned food and have to endure the severe cold and potential spread of COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/Rci5H8Wbmy
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) September 11, 2020
The series of events clearly indicate that China is spooked and is attempting to scare India into backing off by displaying a false sense of bravado.
India has very strategically chosen the month of September to pre-emptively occupy the important heights leaving the Chinese with two options: either deescalate or fight a winter war which the troops of China are clearly not prepared for.
According to Lt. General (Retd) Satish Dua, the month of September is crucial and India will have an advantage over China in a winter standoff situation.
The Army veteran said, “It has happened in the past that sudden snowfall can close the mountain passes. This is why September is important. In this month, you are assured that you can move your logistics in place before winter sets in.”
He also said, “We (Indian army) are at a slight advantage,” in case of a Winter Stand-Off with China. He said that the Indian troops remain positioned in the region throughout the year, especially in Ladakh. However, “The bulk of the Chinese army comes there for exercises during the summer months and during the winter months, they reduce their presence significantly. Even the Indian Army reduces its presence from the forward posts, but we remain in Ladakh.”
Therefore, while the Indian troops are well acclimatized for the extremely cold and inhospitable Winters of Ladakh, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) becomes virtually defunct during the winter months. Moving troops, logistics and equipment becomes a major issue after the summer months come to end, and even if China moves them to forward locations, the PLA troops themselves become ineffective.
It is in this context that India has made some strategic moves in the Pangong Tso area in the week following the pre-emptive action taken by the Special Frontier Force (SFF), thwarting an attempt by China to intrude into the ‘Black top’ hill area (Southern Pangong Tso) on the intervening night of August 29-30.
Following the pre-emptive action by the SFF last week, the Indian Army has made ‘readjustments’ in the Northern Pangong Tso area around Finger 4, which helps India prepare for any eventualities at this point of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
TOI has quoted a source as saying, “These positions on heights running corresponding to China’s People Liberation Army’s posts have been unoccupied for long. Our soldiers have fortified the Indian border.
The mercury can dip as low as -30 C during winter months in Ladakh and the additional troops of the Indian Army and high-altitude forces like the ITBP and the SFF will brave through the extreme cold to outsmart the Chinese PLA. China desperately wants India to back-off before the imminent fall of winter or else risk sending its underprepared troops to fight a winter war, which they simply cannot win against the well acclimatised Indian troops.