The Chinese PLA’s aggressive behaviour along the de facto Indo-Tibetan border called the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh is turning out to be quite an embarrassment for China. In the latest bid to assert dominance along the LAC, the Chinese PLA fired few rounds in the air intending to approach the strategic heights. However, the Indian Army stood its ground and this has triggered a major meltdown in Chinese strategic circles, including counter-allegations against the Indian Army troops.
The latest Chinese misadventure comes ahead of a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on September 10. India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the SCO meet and therefore China wanted to occupy an upper hand ahead of the key bilateral interaction.
In its misadventures, China is trying to reverse the recent gains that India has made in the ongoing Eastern Ladakh standoff. Only towards the fag end of August, India thwarted and pre-empted Chinese military manoeuvres. The Indian armed forces are currently occupying strategic heights on the South Bank of the Pangong Tso Lake and Rechin La near Rechin La near Rezang La.
China has been feeling the heat of the Indian armed forces’ firm posture to beat back Chinese incursion attempts. Even during the SCO Defence Ministers’ meet earlier this month, it was the Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe who requested a meeting with his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh. Who invites who is often a test to determine who is winning, and thus we can see that it is India which is winning the ongoing military standoff against China.
Who invited whom is always the right parameter to judge “Who’s winning?” in an armed struggle. https://t.co/s5yTkvmy57
— Atul Mishra (@TheAtulMishra) September 3, 2020
The Chinese Defence Minister, of course, found himself in a lower bargaining position when he met his Indian counterpart, and therefore, ahead of an expected Jaishankar-Wang Yi meet, Beijing wanted to send a stern signal to India. For that reason, merely days ahead of the September 10 SCO Foreign Ministers’ meet, Beijing decided to send in PLA troops who attempted closing in on one of India’s “forward positions along the LAC”.
As such, the Chinese strategists didn’t want to find themselves getting humbled in a top-level engagement all over again. The Chinese intention was probably to wrest India’s control of a forward location. By firing a few rounds in the air, the Chinese troops wanted to rattle Indian Army soldiers. India has stated, “PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops.”
However, in doing so, the Chinese PLA commanders have again miscalculated the strength of the Indian Army officers and troops. Meanwhile, India has reiterated that the Indian Army is “committed to maintain peace and tranquillity, and is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs.”
The initial Chinese reactions and public statements also made it clear that China is facing an epic meltdown after failing to change facts on the ground. The Chinese Foreign Ministry stated, “On September 7, Indian troops illegally crossed LAC & entered the south bank of Pangong Tso. Indian troops blatantly fired warning shots at our border patrolling troops who were there for consultation. Our troops were compelled to take measures to stabilise the situation.”
It also added, “India’s behaviour violated agreements…It’s a serious military provocation. We’ve made representations through diplomatic & military channels asking them to immediately stop dangerous moves, withdraw people who crossed the line & discipline frontline troops.”
On 7Sep, Indian troops illegally crossed LAC & entered south bank of Pangong Tso. Indian troops blatantly fired warning shots at our border patrolling troops who were there for consultation. Our troops were compelled to take measures to stabilise situation: China Foreign Ministry pic.twitter.com/bWvIxUurD3
— Economic Times (@EconomicTimes) September 8, 2020
However, India has also busted China’s imaginary version of what transpired on September 7. The perception within China was that if it could force PLA troops into Indian Territory ahead of the September 10 SCO meet, then it could come at the diplomatic table with an upper hand. But now that India has dusted all such Chinese ambitions, Beijing is relying on relentless and derisive propaganda bordering on a meltdown.
China has unsurprisingly played its most desperate and useless trick- an angry Global Times editorial. The CCP mouthpiece has written, “We must warn India seriously: You have crossed the line! Your frontline troops have crossed the line! Your nationalist public opinion has crossed the line! Your policy toward China has crossed the line! You are over-confidently provoking the PLA and Chinese people – this is like doing a handstand on the edge of a cliff!”
China can cook up stories. It can issue threats, warnings and suffer meltdowns. But the fact remains that it will have to eat crow every time it tries to change facts on the ground. India doesn’t care for China’s domestic compulsions or the Middle Kingdom syndrome and is going to assert itself on the diplomatic table.
New Delhi’s assertiveness is haunting China, but it cannot do anything about it except fabricating the ground realities or maybe firing in the air with a desperate wish of somehow intimidating the valiant Indian soldiers. The story of September 7 is out now and it seems that India is humbling China all over again.