A Chinese soldier on a mountain
Representational image | Getty Images
Text Size:

The Chinese buildup at Doklam signifies that encroachment and road-building will accelerate, and India cannot protect Bhutan, because it doesn’t have a plan.

Thanks to diligent hard work by Col. (retd) Vinayak Bhat and ThePrint, the Indian public knows the result of our Doklam adventure last summer. Anyone studying China’s national security policy knew the Chinese would return, with force. Nonetheless, I underestimated the Chinese buildup, expecting an additional border battalion.

Instead, Col. Bhat estimates that infrastructure for 4,000-5,000 troops, an entire brigade, is under construction, in addition to improvements in the Yadong salient that might house a division, where I expected a new brigade.

Responding to continued Chinese border provocations in the 2000s, the Indian Army requested seven to eleven additional mountain divisions, according to Mandeep Singh Bajwa, the leading expert on the Indian and Pakistani armies. As ThePrint readers know, two divisions were raised in 2008, followed by a two-division strike corps.

The government of India went wobbly after the first raising, with the Ministry of External Affairs warning against provoking the Chinese, and the Ministry of Finance saying we didn’t have the money. Neither is true, but that’s another discussion. Consequently, the raising of XVII Strike Corps was stretched out, and plans to go beyond four divisions dropped.

The Chinese had no reaction to this major increment to Indian strength. From 1963 itself, they have been remarkably indifferent to the post-1962 buildup, where we added eleven divisions to the China border. Today, they have only six border regiments and three regular brigades in Tibet. China believes, correctly, that India has no will to attack Tibet. The new buildup saw India add six brigades to Ladakh, Himachal and Uttarakhand, plus four divisions, plus four more brigades to the strike corps (two of these may not have been raised yet).

One reason for China’s non-reaction has been the phenomenal expansion of its road and rail network in Tibet, permitting the rapid arrival of reinforcements. In the 1986-87 confrontation over Sumdorong Chu in the east, it moved eight divisions plus independent regiments opposite the Eastern Command in eight weeks. Today, it speaks of the first division reinforcement arriving in 36-48 hours.

The Chinese have become the world’s best engineers, replacing the Americans. Since 2000, they have built a railroad to Lhasa and Shigatze with a spur to Yadong, to be completed in 2018, aim to complete Shigtaze-Gyirong (on the Nepal border) by 2020, begun studies for an extension to Kathmandu-Pokhara and then to the Indian border, are building an east-west line paralleling the Arunachal border to Nyangtri in the east (also for 2020 completion), and begun work on linking Nyangtri to Chengdu.

From the Chengdu end, 350 kilometres of railroad will be completed by 2018; the whole will be operational by 2030. They are working on two lines to better link Xinjiang and central China. This will permit rapid transfer of troops from Xinjiang and central China’s strategic reserves to our eastern border. In the west, they have opened a new railroad Kashgar-Hotan, which eventually will ease their logistic problems on our Northwest front.

They now have the second largest navy in the world, are ridding themselves of obsolete combat aircraft, and have reorganised their entire army for information-driven mobile warfare.

On our side, we’ve cut the defence budget to 1.56 per cent of our GDP. This has added to a 30-year equipment modernisation backlog. We’ve depleted our war reserves for the new raisings, and are struggling to rebuild ammunition and parts restocks to be capable of 10 days of combat.

The air force is losing squadrons every year because of faulty procurement decisions. In terms of blue water ships, the Chinese now have three times as many as India, and are stepping up new warship construction to make it six times as many by 2030-35. We are sitting on the sidelines as China is taking over Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

In Pakistan, they are investing $90 billion in power and infrastructure, equivalent to 30 per cent of Pakistan’s GDP. It is like $1 trillion in India. Their Navy now exercises in the Baltic, the North Pacific, and has even sent a five-warship task force to America’s doorstep off the Aleutians. China’s GDP is $13 trillion to our $3 trillion, and US’s $20 trillion. In 1978, India and China’s GDP was about the same.

At Doklam, we humiliated the Chinese. We had no choice, because they are out of control not just against India, but against the US in the China Seas, South-East Asia, Japan, and South Korea. What New Delhi failed to understand is that our success was only the start of confrontation, not the end. The Chinese buildup at Doklam signifies that (a) encroachment and road-building will accelerate, and (b) India cannot protect Bhutan. Bhutan’s best interest is in accepting China as its new overlord. As usual, we have no plan to counter.

Ravi Rikhye has written about 16 books on defence, and coauthored about ten others. He is completing a book which examines the two-front war question in detail. 

Separate fact from fiction, the real from the fake going viral on social media, on HoaXposed .

12 Comments Share Your Views


  1. China should immediately entice India to an extensive arms race to bankrupt India just like what Americans did to USSR.
    India’s economy is 1/5 of China and Foreign Reserves is 1/8.
    China has indigenous arms industry and capabilities which can build arms at 1/2 cost of the India’s expensive foreign purchases.
    China also can maintain its own fleet as compared to India’s huge after sale maintenance bill.

    • No, that may not work for India. India will probably start war before arm race begin.
      India is experienced in hot war (with Pak and internal rebels) while China didn’t fight for 30 years.
      India is ready for war at any time while China is always bidding its time and has no will to fight an unexpected war.
      India is not China’s major adversary (US&JP&Taiwan is), why India always takes China as no.1 enemy, India has more will and consensus fighting China.
      India may not defeat China, China can’t defeat India too. India is used to prolonged war (with intenal rebels), while China may face more uncertainty in a prolonged war.
      I’m not saying India will win the war. But war is really unpredictable.

      What’s more, a defeated India is not a destructed India, on the contraray it will lead to a more united India and trigger a more profound social and political reform inside India, which in the end help building up a more health and strong India who will post more challenge to China in another 30 or 50 years timeframe. It’s not a joke of words, it’s the real dillemma China has with India.

  2. Has the author of this article ever reflect on India itself? It sounds like India is viewing everyone as enemy especially China. Did India who did rather well economically provoked a dirt poor China who just fought independence wars with many western nations, to a war in 1962?

  3. Hi Ravi
    China knows India does not have the will to fight it, also there isn’t much to be gained by china by beating India in another war rather it would only make it’s competitor and other countries it is bullying go more wary and build up to whatever best they can.
    The question then is: why is it creating such a fantastic infra around India?
    It’s naval and other force build ups are understandable as it wants to project power in a global level.

  4. When US entered Vietnam they thought they were invincible and there was no comparison between the two .
    Finally Super power had to withdraw with a Bloody nose .
    Any way we aren’t in that bad shape first thing to defeat a enemy is to believe in our self but some of us have started spreading the idea that INDIA is Nation of Chickens . Sorry Nehru is not in Control any more . It’s like surrender before the start of battle .

  5. In terms of land forces China’s priority is the conquest of Indian territories and subjugation of India. This is along expected lines India must go directly for the jugular (Total War) instead of vacillating if push comes to shove.

  6. Critical objective and factual.How the Chinese have leapfrogged India in science technology defence and tripping of their economy while our Leaders are talking about Ram Mandir and Stone age relics.

  7. News reports on 17 January 2018 have said that China has or is constructing 10km military complex in Doklam area in Tibet on India-China border. This spot was some months back from now in 2017 a cause of grave concern for India. Readers are by now aware of this Vedic astrology writer’s related alert of concern in article – “ Astrologically speaking , some highlights for India in coming year 2018” – published last year at theindiapost.com on 19 October , 2017. The related text of the alert for India in 2018 , more for July-August, in the article reads as : -“ Borders may not be silent. China could deliver a surprise at some strategic location or locations. Continue watch at Doklam”. It may thus be observed that the said alert has been meaningful. (Incidentally , the website theindiapost.com was understood to be passing through renovation since 11 January 2018).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here