India-China Standoff 2.0: What’s Going On At The Border?

India-China Standoff 2.0: What's Going On At The Border?

After a brief cool down, tensions soared again at the borders as India and China engaged in a standoff again, with the strain of past months in their relationship manifesting again.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Developments
29-30 August, 2020: India blocked China’s attempts to change the status quo at the south of Pangong Tso lake in Chushul (Ladakh). China engaged India in a standoff at the spot for the first time, with the Chushul sub-sector being strategically important due to having an airstrip as well as a pathway to Leh.

4 September: Rajnath Singh and Wei Fenghe, Defence Ministers of India and China respectively, had a meeting in Moscow as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). While Singh labelled the Chinese“attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo” as “violation of the bilateral agreements”, Fenghe blamed India for the clashes and urged to “refrain from provoking the current line of actual control”. However, both sides expressed a desire to resolve matters solely through discussions.

First Firing In Decades
8 September: China claimed India “crossed” the border and “fired threats” to Chinese patrols, which the Indian Army refuted in its official statement.

It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress…We are committed to maintaining peace & tranquility, however are also determined to protect national integrity & sovereignty at all costs.

Official Statement of the Indian Army

On the same day, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju claimed that 5 Indian youth had accidentally crossed into the Chinese border. He later confirmed that China responded to a hotline message from the Indian Army regarding the 5 missing people and that details of their return are being worked out currently.

Dr. S Jaishankar and Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of India and China respectively, would meet in Moscow on 10 September as part of the SCO. Jaishankar recently told The Indian Express that the LAC situation is “very serious” and requires “very, very deep conversations…at political level”.

What Had Happened Before?

  • India and China have been engaged in standoff since months.
  • 15 June: Clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers occurred in Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
  • 20 Indian soldiers were martyred while the Chinese casualties remain undeclared.
  • Disengagement of troops was initiated by 30th June.

Amidst ‘demand’ from China for peace talks, Global Times, funded and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (ruling party) released an incendiary statement against India.

  • Free Tibet is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, founded in 1987 and based in London. Free Tibet campaigns for an end to China’s occupation of Tibet and for international recognition of Tibetans’ right to freedom. 
  • The Anti-Copying Act, 1992 was the Indian legislation enacted by the Government of UP which made copying a Non-bailable Offence. Rajnath Singh, the minister for education in the government during the time, is credited with the controversial idea. 
  • Bharat Ke Veer is a fund-raising initiative by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India on behalf of members of the Indian paramilitary Forces. The initiative was launched by Akshay Kumar and Rajnath Singh in 2018.

Is The Indo-China Face-off Finally Over?

Is The Indo-China Face-off Finally Over?

Disengagement of troops from conflicted regions by India and China after the recent Indo-China face-off at the LAC has strengthened the hope for a peaceful conclusion. But India must be cautious as history of 1962 Indo-Sino war tells us that China hit back right in 3 months after withdrawal.

Crux of the Matter

Disengagement Process
On 30th June, India and China engaged in Lt General level discussion, with both sides agreeing to consider disengagement as the “top priority”. The talks were succeeded by a dialogue between Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor, and the Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi, which facilitated the initial phase of the disengagement.

Chinese disengagement has been completed at Patrolling Point (PP) 17 (Hot Springs), PP-14, PP-15 Galwan and PP 17A Gogra. The troops are also “thinning out” in the Pangong Tso or Lake, with the Chinese contingent moving back from finger 4 to finger 5 of the lake.

Cautioned By History
In 1962, India fortified the Galwan valley and deployed Gorkhas at the place. On 6 July, 1962, Chinese troops spotted the Gorkhas and encircled the place within 4 days. On 15 July, 1962, Indian media lauded the 200 metres withdrawal of the Chinese troops from the conflict site.

Unfortunately, the Indo-China war started on 20 Oct, 1962, just 96 days after the headlines lauding Chinese withdrawal came.

Proceeding With Care
The lethal face off of 15th June was preceded by disengagement only. Experts have claimed that the disengagement would be a long process, and that India cannot afford to “lower its guard” at any point as China can “reverse” its decisions according to the situations. In the meantime, Indian Army has completed building a key bridge over the Galwan river, as per sources

  • The term, Line of Actual Control, was first used by Zhou Enlai in a 1959 letter to Jawaharlal Nehru. It refers to the line of control in the western sector of the borderland between the Indian union territory of Ladakh and Chinese Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • The Sino-Indian War was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A Chinese disputed Himalayan border was the main cause of the war. There had been a series of violent border skirmishes between the two countries after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vincent Arthur Henry McMahon was a British Indian Army officer and diplomat. He was an administrator in the British Raj and served twice as Chief Commissioner of Balochistan. McMahon is best known for the McMahon Line between Tibet and India.

Indo-China Tensions Boil Over UN Meeting

Indo-China Tensions Boil Over UN Meeting

India and China expressed mutual animosity at the latest UN meeting, with both sides receiving support from their respective allies.

Crux of the Matter

India Speaks Up For Hong Kong
At the latest United Nations Human Rights Council meeting, India supported Hong Kong against China and asked the latter to respect the fundamental rights of the HK citizens. In its statement, India asked China to “address the issues properly, seriously and objectively”.

Pakistan And China
On 29 June 2020, a terrorist attack occurred on the Karachi Stock Exchange. 10 casualties were reported, while the 4 terrorists were eliminated. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army. However, Pakistan PM Imran Khan claimed that the attack was facilitated by India.

China initiated the condemnation of the attacks in the UN Security Council. However, the process was delayed by extensions taken by Germany and US, reported as signs of support to India. Eventually, the UNSC condemned the attacks in Pakistan, but did not mention or blame India.

US Support On India’s Chinese App Ban
Recently, India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country. The step received support from the US, which stated that the move will enhance India’s “sovereignty and security”.

We welcome India’s ban on certain mobile apps that can serve as appendages of the CCP’s surveillance state. India’s Clean App approach will boost India’s sovereignty. It will also boost India’s integrity and national security, as the Indian Government itself has stated.

Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State

  • The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) was established on 11 January 2016 after the merger of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. PSX’s origins were laid with the establishment of the Karachi Stock Exchange in 1947, the Lahore Stock Exchange in 1970 and the Islamabad Stock Exchange in 1992.
  • The Republic of China used its Security Council veto only once, to stop the admission of the Mongolian People’s Republic to the United Nations in 1955 on the grounds it recognized all of Mongolia as part of China. Although as of June 2012, the People’s Republic of China had used its Security Council veto eight times.
  • United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was an international relief agency, largely dominated by the United States but representing 44 nations. Founded in 1943, it became part of the United Nations in 1945, and it largely shut down operations in 1947. The Republic Of China co-founded UNRRA.

From Indo-China Face-off To Weaponizing Trade

From Indo-China Face-off To Weaponizing Trade

After the recent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops at LAC, both the countries now have engaged themselves in a trade war by blocking each other’s imports done via ports. India has tightened the scrutiny of the import from Chinese companies, but experts say the move might create a shortage of necessary raw materials.

Crux of the Matter

India’s Aggresive Stand
Bilateral border tensions have spilled over to trade. Now, Indian customs have begun physical inspection of all consignments coming from China based on intelligence inputs. Import consignments from China were halted on the Chennai and Mumbai ports. Moreover, Chinese cargo is being held up by customs at airports in Delhi and Kolkata.

Despite India’s dependence on China for raw material for the pharma, electronics, and automobile sector, there is speculation that India will continue these strict measures and tighten scrutiny of imports from Chinese companies located in Southeast Asian Nations. The Indian government may ask authorities and importers to be aware of shell companies linked to China that might be trying to benefit under the Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN.

There is no official word from the government on this matter. If India wants to be self-reliant then India will have to follow two strategies for self-reliance, i.e. boosting local manufacturing capacity and containing imports.

The automobile sector in India is likely to bear a heavy brunt as Indian companies like Bajaj Auto, Mahindra & Mahindra, TVS Motor Company, Hero Electric, and other Indian companies building electric 2 or 3 wheelers import major components and batteries directly or indirectly from China.

We don’t import because we like to, but because we have no choice.

RC Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki

American firms with manufacturing operations in India are facing difficulties in importing from China. Currently, there are 50 US firms across sectors such as telecom, FMCG, automobile, and medical equipment, having manufacturing operations in India. Looking at the situation, the US-Indian Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) sought the restoration of port operations. Moreover, many companies canceled orders from China.

China’s Retaliation
China has increased the price of paracetamol and ciprofloxacin antibiotic by 25%-27%. India imports these and other such drugs in large quantities due to the insufficient domestic production of raw material. It must be noted that in times of Covid-19, Indian generic drug has been in demand and nearly 70% of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) used to make these drugs come from China. China also reacted by halting Indian origin shipments at Hong Kong Port. In this trade war, 200 industries have been impacted.

Top Five Ports of India

  • Kandla Port is the biggest container port in India in terms of value and amount of cargo.
  • Mumbai Port is India’s largest port by size and shipping traffic.
  • Chennai Port handles over 100 million metric tons of cargo per year.
  • Port Blair Port serves as a connection point between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
  • Kolkata Port is equipped with two dock systems, Haldia docks, and Kolkata docks.
  • The Gwadar Port is the deepest seaport of the world and is situated on the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Balochistan province of Pakistan. The port is under the operational control of China.
  • In the Qin Dynasty, the First Emperor of Qin inked the northern walls to prevent invasion from northern nations. In the Han Dynasty, the emperors extended the Great Wall of China far into today’s western China to protect the Silk Road trade. It allowed the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road.
  • The Government of India’s Economic Survey 2017–18 noted that five states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana — accounted for 70% of India’s total exports.

What Happened At Galwan?

What happened at Galwan valley?

Several speculations were being made over the recent clash between Indian and Chinese troops on June 15 in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley at Patrol Point 14. Following the Army press briefings and conversations with Army personnel in the Valley, the things have become more clear and for a better explanation, it is broken down in 3 phases.
Complete Coverage: India And China Encircling Each Other

Crux of the Matter

Phase 1
Ten days prior to the clash, lieutenant general-level talks were held in which it was proven that a Chinese observation post was on the Indian side of LAC along the Galwan River. It was decided to create a de facto ‘buffer zone’ and the Chinese dismantled the post following the disengagement at Patrol Point 14 where both armies had mobilised very close to the LAC.

The process decided during the previous meeting for disengagement had started from Galwan Valley. It was to be implemented after meetings between the commanders on the ground. During the implementation process, both sides clashed over the existence of a Chinese Observation Post in the ‘buffer zone’.

The 16 Bihar infantry battalion was deployed in the valley with its commanding Officer Colonel B Santosh Babu who even held talks with his Chinese counterpart a day after the Chinese dismantled the camp. On June 14, the camp unexpectedly re-emerged overnight and on June 15 Colonel Babu decided to personally lead a team wondering whether there has been a mistake.

The battalion was friendly and familiar with the Chinese officers due to regular meetings but when Colonel Babu along with 35 men reached they noticed fresh faces who were deployed for the first time there. The new unit was very aggressive and upon questioning, a Chinese soldier pushed the Colonel backward thereby raising the heat and temper.

Seeing the Commanding Officer being disrespected and assaulted the Indian team pounced on the Chinese leading to a proper fist-fight lasting for around 30 minutes with injuries on both sides. The Indian team prevailed and also burned the Chinese post to ashes. Colonel Babu asked the injured men to return back and asked for backup. This incident raised suspicions in his mind about more movements on the Chinese side.

Phase 2
Colonel Babu’s suspicions were correct and more troops were waiting in positions and as soon as they arrived, large stones began to land. Around 9 PM (on June 15) Colonel Babu was hit by a large stone on his head and he fell into the Galwan River. This led to the second brawl of fighting with the use of metal spiked clubs by the Chinese lasting for nearly 45 minutes until both sides disengaged.

The bodies of Colonel Babu and other jawans were carried back to the Indian side, while the rest of the Indian team remained on the Chinese side taking stock of the situation. And when things were at an emotional peak the Indian side heard the noise of quadcopter drone which became an immediate trigger for the third brawl.

The Indian backup comprising of Ghatak platoons who lead attacks and function as ‘shock troops’ from both the 16 Bihar as well as 3 Punjab Regiment arrived in large numbers. As suspected, the Chinese side also called a backup and the Indian team had to step deeper into the Chinese side to ensure they didn’t let large numbers of Chinese troops get close to the LAC.

Phase 3
The drone was moving through the valley, possibly using night vision or infrared cameras to map the damage and the third phase began around 11 PM. Troops continued fighting along the ridgelines and the intensity of the fight led to men on both sides fall into the narrow Galwan river having a sub-zero temperature.

After 5 hours of fighting, Indian and Chinese combat medics arrived to move their dead and injured and the remains of soldiers were exchanged. The physical separation of the fighting groups led to 10 Indian men comprising of 2 Majors, 2 Captains, and 6 Jawans being held back the Chinese side even after the disengagement.

Indian army lost 20 of its brave soldiers and Chinese casualties were more than roughly double of ours. The chaos in the darkness led to several injured men from both sides remaining with the other and by dawn on June 16, the Indian troops withdrew back across the LAC. The Major Generals from both sides then ensured that their men were provided medical treatments.

The tactical debrief report records that the Chinese troops involved in the brawl were not the regular unit deployed involved in multiple rounds of talks previously. It is suspected that there is larger intent to capture Indian territories by using more aggressive, less situationally acclimatized troops to spearhead an aggressive action.

In order to reduce tensions along the LAC, XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart are conducting talks in search of a breakthrough. Currently, the disengagement process has begun and the Patrol point 14 is at peace.

  • A Ghatak Platoon, or Ghatak Commandos, is a reconnaissance platoon that is present in every infantry battalion in the Indian Army. Their name was given to them by Gen. Bipin Chandra Joshi. They act as shock troops and spearhead assaults ahead of the battalion.
  • The Seventeen Point Agreement is the document by which the delegates of the 14th Dalai Lama, sovereign of the de facto state of Tibet, reached an agreement in 1951 with the Central People’s Government of the newly established the People’s Republic of China on affirming Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.
  • Maryul of Ngari was a west Tibetan kingdom based in modern-day Ladakh and Tibet Autonomous Region. The Maryul kingdom was based in Shey and evolved into the modern Ladakh.