Sunday, January 29, 2023
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In Ladakh, like in Doklam, China must learn to deal with the assertive Indian soldier on LAC

By building roads right up to the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, India is changing the rules of the game that China has been unilaterally playing all these years.

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Are the Chinese taking revenge for the 2017 Doklam stand-off in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh?

Over the last fortnight, as Indian and Chinese soldiers beat each other up at a remote, god-forsaken site in the eastern part of the Union Territory, which also saw action during the 1962 border conflict, the world has speculated why Asia’s largest nations are squabbling in this unseemly way.

Here are five reasons why India and China are locked in a fresh ‘battle’ at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in this part of Ladakh.

Also read: Stand-off with China in Ladakh is India’s worst border tension since Kargil in 1999

Changing times

First, because the world – read, the US – is exhausted with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, China thinks it won’t be challenged in Hong Kong — where it recently announced new security legislation — Taiwan or Ladakh. Except, the Americans are fighting back, blacklisting an additional 33 Chinese firms for trying to access US technology, while the Senate last week passed a bill delisting Chinese companies.

Second, China is determined to expand influence in South Asia. Nepal’s recent act of releasing a new map showing disputed Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani as part of its territory is being widely seen in Delhi as Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s attempt at rebalancing the time-tested “roti-beti” relationship with India in favour of Beijing. None other than Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi is said to be behind this move.

Third, Beijing is smarting from being forced to return to the status quo in Bhutan’s Doklam plateau in 2017, after India moved its troops to stop Chinese soldiers from building a road that could have potentially compromised Indian security.

Four, on the eve of Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s election as Chairman of the World Health Organisation’s Executive Board, India supported 62 other nations in moving a resolution that called  for an independent investigation into the WHO’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the zoonotic origins of the coronavirus. The Ladakh face-off is said to be a warning shot to India to be careful in allying with Western nations like the US and Australia.

Five, the Chinese have been building border infrastructure for decades, all along the contested 4,206-km-long boundary from Ladakh in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, making it easy for Chinese armour to roll across these highways if the need arises.

Also read: India carries out ‘proactive localised deployment’ in Ladakh to tackle China

A road got built, and China was put off

But when India took a leaf out of China’s book — by starting construction work on a feeder road that would connect with the road built last year from Darbuk-Shyok in Galwan Valley to the historic site of Daulat Begh Oldi in eastern Ladakh — Chinese soldiers saw red.

The Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Begh Oldi road was rightfully hailed as an achievement. For several years, Indian soldiers had been thwarted by the fast-flowing Shyok river; but last year, the engineering corps managed to throw a bridge over the Shyok, immediately opening up access to Daulat Begh Oldi.

A road built by India between Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldi in eastern Ladakh (representational image) | Photo: ANI
A road built by India between Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldi in eastern Ladakh (representational image) | Photo: ANI

The importance of these new roads is that they have been built right up to the LAC; in fact, they run right along the LAC’s alignment in these parts. This is a far cry from the bad old days when it took several days for military help to reach in case of a face-off with Chinese soldiers.

That’s why the Chinese are angry in Ladakh. These days, when a Chinese PLA soldier looks through his binoculars, he spies the tents of Indian soldiers — on the other side of the LAC. Now, he must share the never-ending sky with them.

The great game in inner Asia is changing. The Silk Road town, Daulat Begh Oldi, is today an Indian military base, located just 8 km south of the Karakoram Pass, an all-weather route built by China for its all-weather friend and ally Pakistan.

It is also the highest airstrip in the world. It saw action during the 1962 conflict with China and was upgraded in 2008 to allow Russian-made An-32 planes to land and the much-larger US-made C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft five years later.

And when the Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road was thrown open last year — merely two years after Doklam — allowing a brigade-strength of 3,000 Indian soldiers to be deployed right along the LAC, a sense of accomplishment was apparent in South Block.

The 1962 conflict is buried far too deeply for present-day politicians to experience emotions like humiliation. But as China not just grew in the intervening decades, but galloped and raced ahead on every socio-economic indicator in comparison to India, a sense of both fatalism as well as competition took clear shape.

Then came Doklam. India’s intervention on behalf of another country, Bhutan, laid to rest the ghost of another failed adventure in another country – Sri Lanka in 1990. It also took the sheen off China’s hubris as the second most powerful power in the world.

Also read: Stand-off in Ladakh: Army matching wits with China, on every step

Demarcating though stand-offs 

The problem with the ongoing face-off in Ladakh is that because the LAC is undemarcated, it’s not clear whether the Chinese are intruding into “Indian” territory or not. Both China and India have a claim line; both have their own perceptions of where the LAC is.

The blame for this lack of geographical clarity must be placed on China’s door. For 17 years, the Chinese have stalled the mechanism of the special representatives set up to discuss the boundary dispute in 2003, when then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to China. There has been no progress at all – or if there is, it has not been made public.

Beijing has resisted even exchanging maps on the Western sector, which encompasses the current site in Ladakh, as well as in the Eastern sector, which includes Arunachal Pradesh.

Maps have only been exchanged in the Middle Sector – incorporating the region in Uttarakhand where Lipulekh lies, but which the Nepalis, China’s new best friend, have now claimed in a new map.

You get the niggling feeling that the Chinese don’t want to settle the boundary issue with India, a country they perceive to be much poorer and far weaker. They don’t like the fact that Indian soldiers are ready to stand their ground, in Doklam and in Ladakh.

So, are the Chinese taking revenge for Doklam in the Galwan valley of Ladakh? One thing is clear: In both places, Indian soldiers have quietly asserted themselves and claimed the high moral ground.

Views are personal.

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  1. But we know all Inaams and all their dynasties are Golams of Arabs. Their ancestors in Pakistan are fed on alms from Arabs. Their history is very humiliating. When rulers came from Middle East these spineless immediately changed their religion but who are brave believed in one nation. They are no coward like Inaams.

  2. First of all india fought more wars than these Chinese,they last fought in 1962,and also they don’t have any armed organization’s or intruders inside their country,meanwhile after 1962,india fought three major wars and till date indian army is having fights with the terrorists and all which makes the Indian army more experienced and more active than those chinese.just like a boxer who trains himself 24×7 for so many years and never does a fight inside the ring ,the Chinese are just showoff and nothing else.

  3. Why we should buy weapons from Medearors we could have purchased latest weapons from Israel / Germany and USA.
    A stringent and piercing action is must against dragon so that their slaves fall in alignment and should turn away their eyes from our Indian soil.

  4. Why we should buy weapons from Russia we could have purchased latest weapons from Israel / Germany and USA.
    A stringent and piercing action is must against dragon so that their slaves fall in alignment and should turn away their eyes from our Indian soil.

  5. India is too strong may not we have high building s not bullet train s bt enormous micro small business es 130cr people satisfied having. 2meals sufficient aday satisfied thanking God and habit peaceful sleep not bastards like rats eating nimald of gutters Chinese we r having enough barood nuclear weapons Brave soldiers to annihilate china and it’s adopted gadha donkey son pak 100times size of earth in one hour so bcare ful china don’t awake impending hell for u that’s india

  6. It will be a absolute disaster for us if something sparks of, China are a big big super power here in South Asia, and they have a massive alliance with Pakistan, which could lead to India VS Pakistan and China, two big allies. We definitely need to sort out something with China as its already difficult to keep up with the Pakistanis.

    • Thanks for your advice…but if China wants war, they r most welcome…let the war decide who is more powerful..No need to think about chirkut Pakistan..we can crush them any time.

  7. Singh is king you should have learn your lesson from the history they never treated you like your ancestors fought for india just like a pet they are treating you killing your people just live once without being a hypocrite

  8. Its obvious thatindia willgo to negotiate with china after pakistan china cpec indias future is dark as hell and soon india will be burnt like thy burn thr Bodies. And like muslims Christian budhs all minorities of india do not want to live with stinky cowpiss drinkers (hindus) . So its countdown time for hindus whatever thy did with minorities of india thy will get it back . Most uneducated 40 rupee (statu) god buyer s will b vanished from world mape soon

    • And China’s case will be like German in WW-2. The downfall of China is imminent. A stigma in the name of communism. This revisionist face of China exposed Rothschild. What Com. Mao-Tse-Tung dreamed and what it happened. Now China is the biggest imperialist power of the world. Down with China, down with Chinese imperialism.

    • It is good to drink cow urine than to eat friend china is never ahead of India till 1990s see history,defenetly our economy at present is far less than china but we have guts and rights to say against any thing u people without balls can’t even protest to your communist govt . And by the for minority all r well and I think Chinese people r the weakest guts facing atrocities from their own govt. Time will come when there is nothing the word like thing I don’t able to differentiate u small people all looks similar small eye small height and many thing small .

    • Chinese will die soon because of new virus. The devastation for China will be much more when USA, Taiwan, Japan, and others join the war.

  9. If India loses a war against china from now on:
    1: I will blame modi govt because, His govt came into power from 2014…..till 2019 he didnt bought stealth weapons from usa. Just keep buying it from russia who would pass on the money to china and would further give better and upgraded sukhois to china and so on.
    2: Today, Russia is not even bothered about how china is bullying us….. Neither Russia nor China has any respect for India and therefore we should only buy weapons from USA.
    3: Back to our defense problems…..Does anyone from DRDO know that there are weapons which are available in the world like americas bomber or B2, Laser weapons, RAIL GUNS, HYPERSONIC OR SUPER DUPER MISSILE FAMOUS FOR ITS SPEED…… CAN YOU GUYS QUICKLY DEVELOP AND DEPLOY ANY OF THESE OR YOU ARE HAPPY AND SATISFIED WITH “TEJAS” AND “SUKHOIS”.

  10. Nepal has neutral stance to both China and India. Both are our neighbours . We r a sovereign nation . Don’t make us look like servant of either. Recently India has loads of things against us Nepalese. When we don’t say anything against India we r good but when we fight for our rightful things we r traitors? Why is India having border disputes with all it’s neighbours coz you guys encroach. The said land of kalapani lipulekh was allowed to have Indian army stationed by our then king as India asked if they can have it for their border security. Then king allowed stationing of Indian army then which was India is saying it was theirs to begin with. We do have roti n beti relation with India in south. But we do have similar relation with China on north albeit less. But please respect Nepal as well. We may b small but we r not subservant.

    • Who encroached to whose territory? Read the the Sugouli Treaty of 1816 carefully, then 1865 final resolution as part of Sugouli Treaty. In 1865 British and Nepali Monarch came to the conclusion that the western Indo,- Nepal border would be where watershed flows to Kalapani river and not the headway to Kalapani river. Since then up to 1947 and from 1947 uptillnow the area under dispute is under India’s possession. Often you people cite Sugouli Treaty of 1816, but do not mention the next resolution with Nepal’s Monarch in 1865.

  11. India should avoid two front war………….IAF will not exist 48 hours in a such a scenario !!!!

    • To fight with India, China has to mobilize 8 times more force to defeat India, as China has to mobilize all its force and air attack through the inhospitable terrain of Himalayan range. Strategically India is in a much better position than China. In sea front also if India thinks it can block Malacca strait to block Chinese fleet to move to Indian ocean.

  12. Expected better than this from Ms. Malhotra. Chinese have intruded at 4 places according to ‘The Print’ itself. Could they have done this is the Indian soldier had been assertive?

  13. India should initiate a surprise and a major all-out two-front war in the very near future with whatever resources it has. Arrogant China knows that the rest of the world is weak and distracted and therefore using this opportunity to expand its influence and territory. India should scuttle China’s plans by giving China a bloody nose with everything India has got. Whether India wins or loses, devastate China to the greatest extent. Yes, China’s economy has become five times bigger than India’s, but that also means that China has a lot more to lose than India. For every $1 that India will lose, China will lose 5$. The devastation for China will be much more when USA, Taiwan, Japan, and others join the war. After seeing India’s bravery, if these other anti-China countries join in, then for every $1 that India will lose, China will lose $100. 

      • Sure, Major Akshey Kumar, Major Sunil Sethi and Major Anupum Kher can win war for India. Afterall, for years, the Bollywood regiment has single handed defeated Pakistan Army through the Bollywood movies. Very funny!

  14. Clever cunning communist China is nothing but Colony of termites making it’s way into foreign lands with an day night infestation and a clear focused agenda of slowly eat up this whole planet one day…

    Bowing backing down is not an option under current leadership… This behaviour needs to be contained now!! If you don’t stand-up for your land today eventually you won’t have it anyway…,, Nation will remain land of free as long as it’s home of the braves,, there are no alternatives,, this citizens as indian needs to understand!!

  15. India should be ready for a major two-front war in the very near future with whatever resources it has. China knows that the rest of the world is weak and distracted and therefore will not let go of this opportunity to expand its influence and territory. 

  16. An article on the feelings of Indian political parties looking after the interests of China in India is long overdue. They will try their level best to create unrest inside India on one pretext on the other. Imagine what would happen if USA is creating such ruckus.

  17. Jyoti, your write
    “The blame for this lack of geographical clarity must be placed on China’s door. For 17 years, the Chinese have stalled the mechanism of the special representatives set up to discuss the boundary dispute in 2003, when then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to China. There has been no progress at all – or if there is, it has not been made public.”

    The same applies in India’s high-handed approach to Nepal. Nepal has been requesting India to settle boundary issues for years but India has been putting it into the backburner. It has taken Nepal as granted or to borrow your own words, as “a country they perceive to be much poorer and far weaker.”

  18. India must show China where it stands. India is powerful enough to mess up with.
    For China’s best interests, let things move along nicely, n cheers for good times

  19. People Liberation Army will take the Tatti Indian Army to the cleaners and unlike Pakistan, China will not return the Abhinandan. And this third-rate Indian Army was talking about the two-front war!

    • Lol , So you mean you people surrendered to the same in 1971. No doubt pakistanis don’t have balls to fight. And For tatti Army we know which Army is tatti ? Tatti is Pakistani Army which surrenders when push comes the shove like in 1971. Your Army is coward, can only handle Corner plots, bachabaazi and beating baluchi and Waziristani men.

  20. China is not Kashmir where the Indian occupational troops can get away with their brutalities.

    • When you don’t have guts to fight, you live on the balls of other. This is the condition of Pakistan, you are only good at bachabaazi and beating people in Baluchistan, Waziristan and when push comes the shove like in 1971, you surrender.

    • Write with your real Arabic name instead of Indian name, Did anybody raped you ? If not then irony died a hundred deaths. I think you people like Xinjiang Model of dealing with Muslims, as you people are so much fan of China. I don’t mind Xinjiang Model to be fair.

  21. Just to let the author know that there is no town at Daulat Beig Oldi, it is a hight altitude plateau desert.
    Doklam was a defeat for India, the Chinese are in occupation and massive infrastructure has been built there.
    The Chinese presence at Gulwan confluence, with Shyok river (close to the LAC) is there to cut the road in time of war.
    Why would we want to contest DBO during war when an Indian force could so easily be cut off from supply lines.
    These areas are worthless both for China or India, a 11,000 feet altitude arid area, with no population.
    India should not have spent A huge amount of money building infrastructure to protect a waste of space.
    It’s not barren land that makes a country powerful, it the collective education and health of its population.
    Look at Singapore the size of Bombay and Wealthy as 25% of India.
    The money should have been spend in improving education and health and the standard of living of our population.
    Now india has built this infrastructure on the barren mountains, what next? Are we now to station troops there who would live in miserable hostile conditions like those on the Saichen glacier for years at the cost of Universities and hospitals on the plains.
    The Chinese are not INTRESTED in invading India via these harsh mountains, they can invade India with their goods and technology .
    The economic battles for markets is the real war, remember the E India Company, we win these wars with a,superbly educated and healthy population. INDIA SADLY HAS LOST THIS WAR, AND SO BEHIND IT IS TECHNOLOGICALLY AND IN WEALTH TO CHINA WHOSE ECONOMY IS FIVE TIMES THAT OF INDIA, THAT WE WILL LOSE BADLY A REAL WAR.
    This has come from not getting our priorities right, our middle classes are selfish, the real patriots are those who seek to remove poverty and create a healthy and educated society with a good standard of living for all
    The 56 inch chest thumping will not get india anywhere.

    • fake syed and ex-hindus showing their hate for their ancestors and motherland . very deservingly muslims are kicked like dogs in sub continent of india – crying barking weeping like bastard urchins left out to play pretend arabs. now shit down uncle.

    • Doklam was a defeat, have you ever been to that area, Chinese are constructing things on their side not on Doklam. No point Ms always have jihadi outlook

    • India is only barking china is in front of india …please india do some thing please please godi media is silent ? I dont know why ? 56 inches seena ? Or laddakh ki landi

    • it seems you are frustrated with your wife or girlfriend and looking for a place to vent out your anger. it would be better if you use your strategic intelligence to solvde your issues at home.

  22. India is no China…..imitating others without understating implications is plain stupid !!!!

  23. After all the time taken in writing the piece, the last line undid everything ‘high moral ground’. Seems ghost of Nehru has yet to leave. China and Morals is like Mao revelling at his 50 million victims

    • The Indians remain ” Ghulams” for centuries and still they are showing loyalty to their master “U S ” , They feel proud to be Ghulams ; they try to please their masters by jeopardizing regional peace in return of which they receive dollars, investment and green cards ; now where are those bastard terrorist H indu s who were showing bravery by killing poor , weak unarmed Muslims in Dehli; who were supporting terrorists in BALOCHISTAN

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