Archive for the ‘China vs India’ category

Why an Obscure Strip of Land in the Himalayas is Important for the Free World

September 7, 2017

Why an Obscure Strip of Land in the Himalayas is Important for the Free World, Gatestone InstituteLawrence A. Franklin, September 7, 2017

India’s withdrawal already has served China’s interest: to pressure Bhutan and Nepal to resist seeking help from New Delhi to defend their sovereignty. China wants these small Himalayan countries to view India as an unreliable ally, and probably hopes they will begin looking to Beijing for protection and leadership.

Where the wider region is concerned, China most likely considers India’s capitulation as a signal to other countries engaged in territorial disputes with it — such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Japan — to succumb to bilateral negotiations with Beijing, rather than solicit international or multilateral organizations to negotiate for them. All of these states, which are either U.S. allies or have friendly relations with America, are keenly aware of their vulnerability in the face of China’s growing military power.

The United States must not allow China to intimidate India and other friendly regional states. Rather, it must support the banding together of those countries to defy Beijing and contain Chinese expansionism. American influence in the Pacific is at stake.

A months-long confrontation between China and India over an obscure piece of land — the Doklam plateau in the Himalayas — has serious implications that should not be minimized or ignored.

China’s decision to pick a fight with India near their mutual border with the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan is not just a local issue: the regional altercation could have global repercussions.

The crisis was sparked early in the summer of 2017, when China constructed a road inside Bhutan, an ally of India’s. (Bhutan’s border is internationally recognized, but China rejects its legitimacy, claiming that the area is really part of southern Tibet.) In response, Indian troops entered the disputed territory on June 12 and faced off with Chinese soldiers and road construction crews. No shots were fired, however brawling ensued.

(Image source: Nilesh shukla/Wikimedia Commons)

China’s behavior, which reflects its ultimate objective of achieving hegemony in the Pacific, runs counter to the U.S. policy imperative to protect freedom of navigation on the high seas, through which one-third of the world’s commerce passes. To this end, the U.S. Pacific Fleet conducts regular and frequent multilateral naval exercises to keep these waters free of Chinese control. One such exercise was conducted jointly with the Indian Navy during the recent standoff with China.

The upshot of the standoff was that India backed down. On August 28, New Delhi withdrew its troops from Doklam, a move that China has touted as a victory and deployed as a warning. As a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman triumphantly announced, “We remind the Indian side to learn the lesson from this incident.”

India portrayed the temporary resolution to the conflict differently, claiming the crisis was defused as a result of a mutually agreed-upon diplomatic decision, which it called an “expeditious disengagement of border personnel.” In any event, as no territorial issues were resolved along the 3,500-kilometer China-India border, future incidents are likely to erupt.

In the meantime, India’s withdrawal already has served China’s interest: to pressure Bhutan and Nepal to resist seeking help from New Delhi to defend their sovereignty. China wants these Himalayan countries to view India as an unreliable ally, and probably hopes they will begin looking to Beijing for protection and leadership.

Where the wider region is concerned, China most likely considers India’s capitulation as a signal to other countries engaged in territorial disputes with it — such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Japan — to succumb to bilateral negotiations with Beijing, rather than solicit international or multilateral organizations to negotiate for them. All of these states, which are either U.S. allies or have friendly relations with America, are keenly aware of their vulnerability in the face of China’s growing military power. If they become disillusioned and weaken their resistance to Beijing’s ambitions, the United States’ standing in the Pacific will be damaged irrevocably.

This is precisely the indirect message that China has been conveying to the powers-that-be in Washington, while warning India not to participate in any possible U.S. strategy to contain Chinese influence. Speaking on August 1 at an event to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, Chinese President Xi Jinping hinted at this when he said, “We will never permit anybody, any organization, any political party to split off any piece of Chinese territory from China at any time in any form.”

The United States must not allow China to intimidate India and other friendly regional states. Rather, it must support the banding together of those countries to defy Beijing and contain Chinese expansionism. American influence in the Pacific is at stake, which should be of great concern to the rest of the free world.

Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

World View: China and India Prepare for Border War at Doklam Plateau

August 13, 2017

 

World View: China and India Prepare for Border War at Doklam Plateau, BreitbartJohn J. Xenakis, August 12, 2017

(Please see also, China and India on brink of armed conflict as hopes of resolution to border dispute fade. — DM)

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • India reinforces its military in preparation for war
  • Bhutan makes it clear to China that its ally is India
  • SCMP: China and India on brink of war that could spread to the Indian Ocean

India reinforces its military in preparation for war

Chinese soldier stands guard on the Chinese side of the border crossing between India and China. (AFP)

India’s military have raised the alert level in the region surrounding the Doklam Plateau, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) the forms the border between India and China.

For almost two months, China and India have each had 300 soldiers just 100 meters apart on the plateau, 3,000 meters above sea level. India is not increasing its troop strength on the plateau itself, but is bringing troops into bases nearby, and is raising the alert level in preparation for war.

The border dispute involving China, India, and Bhutan over the Doklam Plateau continues to be unresolved and, in fact, appears to be escalating. As we have been reporting, a standoff between India’s army and China’s army on Doklam plateau in the tiny country of Bhutan. China is attempting to annex the region, and on June 16 sent Chinese troops and construction workers to begin road construction. Bhutan troops tried to prevent the Chinese troop incursion, but they were overrun. India sent in its own troops, saying that it did so when Bhutan invoked a treaty with India and asked for help, resulting in a standoff.

No bullets have been fired yet but, as we recently reported, China appears to have set an August 19 deadline for India to withdraw its troops from the Doklam Plateau.

Even if August 19 passes with no military action, there’s another hard deadline: The Communist People’s Congress in Beijing in November. If the standoff has not been resolved in time for that meeting, it could be a major humiliation for China’s president Xi Jinping.

In addition to setting deadlines, China has been using every possible form of psychological warfare on India to try to force them to withdraw their soldiers, and allow the Chinese military to invade and annex Doklam Plateau. Some of the techniques used by China include the following:

  • Claim that India has invaded Chinese territory, even though India’s troops are on the Doklam Plateau, which belongs to Bhutan.
  • Warn India to avoid a repeat of their loss in a 1962 border war, without mentioning China’s loss in a 1967 border war.
  • Warn India that if it doesn’t back down, then China will invade Jammu and Kashmir.

India has moved its army to a state of “no war, no peace,” which is an alert state where soldiers take up positions that are earmarked for them in the event of a war. Reuters and Indian Express and India Times and Financial Express and International Business Times (India).

Bhutan makes it clear to China that its ally is India

From the beginning of this crisis, China’s media have insisted that Bhutan and China have no dispute, implying that the two countries agree that the Doklam Plateau belongs to China, not Bhutan.

Furthermore, China’s media have insisted that Bhutan did not want India’s intervention and that Indian troops had entered the region in order to gain control of Bhutan.

Bhutan has, in fact, tried to avoid inflaming the situation, and has said little, hoping that India and China find a peaceful resolution.

However, on Thursday, the government of Bhutan issued a statement made its position very clear:

Our position on the border issue of Doklam is very clear. Please refer to our statement which has been published on the web site of Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry on June 29, 2017.

The referenced June 29 statement is as follows:

Press Release June 29, 2017

In view of the many queries raised recently in the media regarding the Bhutan – China boundary in the Doklam area the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to convey the following:

On 16th June 2017, the Chinese Army started constructing a motorable road from Dokola in the Doklam area towards the Bhutan Army camp at Zompelri. Boundary talks are ongoing between Bhutan and China and we have written agreements of 1988 and 1998 stating that the two sides agree to maintain peace and tranquility in their border areas pending a final settlement on the boundary question, and to maintain status quo on the boundary as before March 1959. The agreements also state that the two sides will refrain from taking unilateral action, or use of force, to change the status quo of the boundary.

Bhutan has conveyed to the Chinese side, both on the ground and through the diplomatic channel, that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the agreements and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between our two countries. Bhutan hopes that the status quo in the Doklam area will be maintained as before 16 June 2017.

Once again, we have a situation where China’s claims are simply lies. As usual, we have to point out that China has lied repeatedly and continuously about its claims and criminal activities in the South China Sea, and so there is no reason to believe any claims they make about Bhutan’s territory on the Doklam Plateau.

As we have said before, China is a highly militarized international criminal state, but at some point, they will go one step too far, and bring an enormous catastrophe on themselves and the world. India Times (8-Aug) and Kashmir Monitor and Bhutan Foreign Ministry

SCMP: China and India on brink of war that could spread to the Indian Ocean

Among Chinese media publications, we often quote China Daily and Global Times. Both are strictly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, though Global Times is far more nationalistic.

The Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post (SCMP) is a bit more independent than the other two. That is not to say that they would directly confront and contradict Beijing policy – if they did, Beijing would probably have the editors abducted, thrown into a pit and tortured. But they are able to print analyses that are a bit more balanced than the pure propaganda of the other two.

According to an SCMP analysis, both China and India are preparing for an armed conflict in the event that negotiations fail.

The article quotes a Chinese military source:

The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will not seek to fight a ground war with Indian troops early on. Instead it will deploy aircraft and strategic missiles to paralyse Indian mountain divisions stationed in the Himalayas on the border with China. [Indian troops will probably hold out for] no more than a week.

Chinese military sources believe that any conflict will be controlled, and not spill over into other disputed areas, of which there are currently three along the 2,000 km border.

However, an Indian defense expert, says that a conflict will not be limited, and could extend into the Indian Ocean.

China is vulnerable in the maritime area, because China is heavily reliant on imported fuel and, according to figures published by state media, more than 80 per cent of its oil imports travel via the Indian Ocean or Strait of Malacca.

Dr Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy of the National University of Singapore says:

Any Chinese military adventurism will get a fitting reply from the Indian military.

Certainly, it will be detrimental for both, but if Beijing escalates [the conflict], it will not be limited. Perhaps, it may extend to the maritime domain as well.

If China engages in a military offensive against India, New Delhi will take all necessary measures … [and will] respond to Chinese actions in its own way. Why only a border war? It could escalate to a full-scale India-China war. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

China and India on brink of armed conflict as hopes of resolution to border dispute fade

August 13, 2017

China and India on brink of armed conflict as hopes of resolution to border dispute fade, South China Morning Post, Minnie Chan, August 11, 2017

(Due to China’s apparently increasing problems with India, might China be less aggressive in its support of the Kim regime in North Korea? — DM)

In July, India, the United States and Japan completed their 10-day Malabar 2017 naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal, while around the same time the US approved the US$365-million sale of military transport aircraft to India and a US$2-billion deal for surveillance drones.

As a result, the Indian navy now has eight Boeing P-8A Poseidon submarine hunters patrolling in the Indian Ocean.

******************************************

Chinese and Indian troops are readying themselves for a possible armed conflict in the event they fail in their efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to their border dispute on the Doklam plateau in the Himalayas, observers said.

On Friday, India’s defence minister Arun Jaitley told parliament that the country’s armed forces are “prepared to take on any eventuality” of the stand-off, Indian Express reported the same day.

Sources close to the Chinese military, meanwhile, said that the People’s Liberation Army is increasingly aware of the possibility of war, but will aim to limit any conflict to the level of skirmishes, such as those contested by India and Pakistan in Kashmir.

“The PLA will not seek to fight a ground war with Indian troops early on. Instead it will deploy aircraft and strategic missiles to paralyse Indian mountain divisions stationed in the Himalayas on the border with China,” a military insider told the South China Morning Post on condition of anonymity, adding that he believes Indian troops will probably hold out for “no more than a week”.

Another military source said that officers and troops from the Western Theatre Command have already been told to prepare for war with India over the Doklam crisis.

“There is a voice within the army telling it to fight because it was Indian troops that intruded into Chinese territory in Donglang [Doklam],” the second source said. “Such a voice is supported by the public.”

Both sources said that China’s military believes any conflict will be controlled, and not spill over into other disputed areas, of which there are currently three along the 2,000km border between the two Asian giants.

However, Indian defence experts warned that once the first shot is fired, the conflict may escalate into full-scale war. That in turn could result in New Delhi blockading China’s maritime lifeline in the Indian Ocean.

“Any Chinese military adventurism will get a fitting reply from the Indian military,” Dr Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, a research associate at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, told the Post.

“Certainly, it will be detrimental for both, but if Beijing escalates [the conflict], it will not be limited. Perhaps, it may extend to the maritime domain as well,” he said.

“If China engages in a military offensive against India, New Delhi will take all necessary measures … [and will] respond to Chinese actions in its own way. Why only a border war? It could escalate to a full-scale India-China war,” he said.

Rajeswari Rajagopalan, a defence analyst from the Observer Research Foundation think tank in New Delhi, said that “in the event of a full-scale war, definitely India’s navy will prevent the Chinese navy from moving into the Bay of Bengal or the Indian Ocean.”

China is heavily reliant on imported fuel and, according to figures published by state media, more than 80 per cent of its oil imports travel via the Indian Ocean or Strait of Malacca.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said that India in 2010 established a naval base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, close to the Strait of Malacca, where the narrowest sea channel is just 1.7km wide.

“Since 2010, India has also upgraded two airstrips on the islands to serve fighters and reconnaissance aircraft,” he said.

“All these moves pave the way for India to be able to blockade Chinese military and commercial ships from entering the Indian Ocean in the event of a naval conflict between the two countries.”

In July, India, the United States and Japan completed their 10-day Malabar 2017 naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal, while around the same time the US approved the US$365-million sale of military transport aircraft to India and a US$2-billion deal for surveillance drones.

As a result, the Indian navy now has eight Boeing P-8A Poseidon submarine hunters patrolling in the Indian Ocean.

Chinese and Indian troops fought a war in 1962 after a series of skirmishes heightened tensions on the border. That conflict ended largely in a stalemate, despite China’s large military advantage.

However, Chaturvedy said that India has learnt lessons from its past mistakes and is now better prepared to defend itself against China.

Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong said that both sides have underestimated each other.

“If the border conflict expands to the sea, it will be very difficult for the PLA to defeat the Indian navy, whose capabilities are much stronger after the purchase of the P-8A Poseidon submarine hunters,” he said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:

Dispatch from Doklam: Indians Dig in for the Long Haul in Standoff with China

July 24, 2017

Dispatch from Doklam: Indians Dig in for the Long Haul in Standoff with China, Subir Bhaumik,  July 24, 2017

China live fire drill

As I travel up from eastern India’s Bagdogra airport to Gangtok and then to Indian army’s Nathang base near the fraught Doklam area, I count at least six military convoys heading in the direction of Sikkim’s border with China.

At Nathang, a few kilometres from Doklam in the now-famous “tri-junction” of Tibet, Bhutan’s Doklam plateau and Sikkim’s Chumbi valley, the theatre of the ongoing stand-off between Indian and Chinese forces , the build-up is even more palpable, even though vehicles carrying artillery pieces and light tanks slither through the night to avoid public attention.

New bunkers are being built, the ground is being mined to pre-empt Chinese attack, machine-gun nests are being placed at strategic points, and soldiers are performing battle drills at least twice a day. But restraint is still the buzzword.

India soldier stands guard at border crossing

“We are under clear orders not to exacerbate the tensions, so we won’t provoke a scuffle, certainly not a firefight, but we are ready for a suitable response if the Chinese get aggressive,” says a young captain of India’s famous “Black Cats” division at Nathang. The cheerful-looking captain, in his late 20s, can’t be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media. The media isn’t even supposed to be here. The Indian Army isn’t embedding reporters as yet.

Nathang serves as a base to reinforce India’s forward outpost of Lalten in the tri-junction. Lalten is located in higher ground that gives the Indians a clear view of the Chinese movements in Tibet’s Yadong zone that is part of the Chumbi Valley between Indian and Bhutanese hill territory. This part of the Chumbi Valley, at a height of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) is likened to a broad dagger aimed at the so-called “Chicken’s Neck”, a narrow corridor that connects Indian mainland to its remote Northeast.

Chinese soldiers holding banner in Ladakh, India asking India to withdraw troops.

India is paranoid about the Chicken’s Neck for its potential vulnerability. But this is also where the Indian army has terrain and tactical advantages of higher ground and a clear vantage point in the event of a border clash. “It’s important for us to stop the Chinese here because if we fail, they will roll on to the Chicken’s Neck and can cut off our northeast,” says the captain.

At Lalten, says a lieutenant colonel, the Chinese troops crossed into Indian-held ground in June and smashed two bunkers built by the Black Cats. “We restrained our troops with some difficulty, we ensured nobody fired but we finally pushed back the Chinese physically.”

Chinese and Indian flags at Great Hall of the People in Beijing

The captain says the Indian army is determined to stop construction of the C40 road (capable of carrying a 40-tonne load) that the Chinese have been trying to build through Bhutan’s Doklam plateau from Yadong to connect to the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) forward post opposite Lalten.

Under its treaty obligations to Bhutan, India must come to the Buddhist kingdom’s aid in times of military need, and the Chinese efforts to build the road in this undemarcated region was seen as such a provocation. Bhutan joined India in boycotting May’s Belt and Road Summit in Beijing, which is said to have provoked China. Indian analysts believe the Chinese decided to start building the C40 road through Doklam after the summit to test India’s special relations with Bhutan.

“They are trying to show Bhutan who calls the shots in the Himalayas. So we have to ensure we are capable of defending Bhutan’s territorial integrity,” says Maj-Gen Gaganjit Singh, who commanded a division in India’s Northeast before retiring as the deputy chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). “We have to prove we can defend Bhutan and we are determined not to lose the current terrain and tactical advantage we have in Chumbi Valley.”

Chumbi Valley is among the few areas in India’s Sikkim state – adjoining the theatre of conflict – in the 3,500km-long disputed border between India and China.

After jettisoning its traditional, defensive “just-hold-the-border” strategy, India has spent the last four years raising a mountain strike corps of about 80,000 for a new limited offensive doctrine in the event of a war.

Young Buddhist monks in region of India near border with China.

“That worries the Chinese PLA, now that we have better infrastructure and a much better strategic airlift capability, with many advance landing grounds in the Himalayas for the newly inducted giant US-built transport aircrafts to operate from,” says Maj-General Apurba Bardalai, who has commanded the Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan and brigade formations in India’s northeast. “With every passing day, we are closing the gap with the Chinese in terms of capabilities.”

And that is exactly what may be fueling the hostilities. “Failing to build the road will undermine the PLA’s domination strategy in the disputed Himalayan border. It will pour water over Chinese attempts to draw Bhutan into its fold by undermining its special relations with India,” says Subir Dutta, a former Intelligence Bureau officer specialising in China.

India has called for resolving the issue through dialogue, but China insists the Indian army must pull back first. “But the moment we vacate our forward posts, the Chinese will build the road through Bhutanese territory. We can’t allow that,” says a brigadier at the Black Cats headquarters.

Mountain pass between India and China.

With so much at stake on both sides, a resolution is unlikely anytime soon. At least that’s what the Black Cats think. “We would love peace to return. We want normal relations with the Chinese in maintaining tranquillity on the border. But we are digging in for a long haul because there’s no let-up in the aggression on the other side,” says the brigadier, who also cannot be identified.

As I am speaking with the brigadier in a tent, the buzz of activity seems to be picking up outside. Soldiers constructing bunkers and building other fortifications try to complete their assignment, racing against time as the sun sets on a cloudy day. “Speed up guys,” barks an officer supervising the construction.

“We don’t want war, but we are prepared for it and this is not 1962. Diplomacy should work and normal relations should be restored, but we are not going to be cowed down by threats,” the brigadier says.

China conducted military exercises in Tibet just after the Doklam stand-off began and its official media has threatened teaching a lesson to the Indian army if it doesn’t pull back from Bhutanese territory.

“But those are routine exercises, so we are not perturbed,” says the brigadier. “We are not leaving Bhutan to its fate, come what may.”

Bhutanese graziers at Jigme Kesar nature reserve just behind the Doklam plateau, however, don’t seem to mind being left alone. “We don’t want war between two large armies like India and China. That won’t be good for Bhutan,” says grazier Pema Namgyal.

Fellow graziers nodded furiously in agreement.

Chinese Army Mobilizes Military Assets to Tibet Following Live Fire Drills

July 20, 2017

Chinese Army Mobilizes Military Assets to Tibet Following Live Fire DrillsSputnik News via Global Security org, July 20, 2017

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) mobilized thousands of ground vehicles and other military equipment as the standoff between Chinese and Indian troops near the disputed area of Sikkim continues, according to a report from the PLA Daily.

PLA Daily is widely considered the main outlet the Chinese army uses for external communications, LiveMint notes.

The report did not specify the exact date the military assets were relocated to Tibet but said it occurred at the end of June. The unspecified military “hardware” was transported via rail and conventional roads.

It’s not entirely clear where in Tibet the chess pieces have been placed. The report also failed to indicate whether the military equipment would be used in tandem with a Chinese battalion that recently completed drills in Tibet, China’s second-largest province.

Last weekend, the PLA conducted live fire exercises in the province. Video footage of the drills was broadcast over CCTV. Analysts said the move would show the people of China the government is ready to protect them in the event that the standoff becomes more heated and violent.

Reinforcing the western front with personnel and hardware makes it much easier for commanders to defend Chinese borders, Wang Dehua of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies told LiveMint on Wednesday. Offensive and defensive maneuvers are “all about logistics,” Wang said, and “now there is much better logistics support to the Tibet region.”

The dispute in Sikkim originated in mid-June when Indian troops stopped Chinese workers from building a road that Beijing said was on its territory. Bhutan claimed that the particular area where construction took place was actually its territory, and India sided with Bhutan.

The area where the road was being built is of significant strategic importance to New Delhi. A finished road could provide Chinese troops with an avenue to sever India’s access to its northeastern states.

A recent article in the Indian Defense Review argued that further espionage between India and China might actually be key to resolving the crisis. “The two countries are ignorant of each other’s strategies,” Nicolas Groffman wrote. As a result, suspicion is “taking the place of intelligence just when understanding is critical.”

Vasily Kashin told Sputnik China, however, that such activities ought to have strict limits if stabilizing effects are to be achieved. Intelligence operations would cross a critical threshold if “active intervention in the internal affairs or acts of sabotage” were used, Kashin emphasized.

While Nobody’s Looking, China And India Are Carrying Out A Real-Life ‘Game Of Thrones’

July 20, 2017

While Nobody’s Looking, China And India Are Carrying Out A Real-Life ‘Game Of Thrones’, The Federalist, July 20, 2017

(The article, dated July 20th, states, “Starting this week, India is holding naval exercises with the United States and Japan, a move viewed by observers as a show of force against China’s rising naval power.” However, the link provided, dated July 10th, states that “The Malabar exercises involving Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US and Indian navies are taking place in the Bay of Bengal and will last until July 17.” Please see also, Malabar Exercise: India, US and Japan deploy its biggest carriers in show of force against China’s growing naval power at Warsclerotic. — DM)

The Asian version of the conflict between House Lannister and House Stark is playing out over a patch of remote land high in the Himalayas, bordered by China, India, and Bhutan. The Chinese dragon and the Indian tiger, the two most populous nations with nuclear weapons, are engaging in their worst border dispute in 40 years, which has turned this spit of land into the most dangerous place in Asia.

You haven’t heard anything about it until now because the U.S. media is so focused on who talked to whom during the 2016 presidential campaign that they can’t spare any resources to report on truly consequential events taking place around the world.

China and India share a very long border of more than 2,000 miles. The two countries have engaged in various border disputes since the nineteenth century. They even fought a war in 1962 over border issues. China claimed it won the war but India only admitted that the war resulted in a stalemate and left many border issues unresolved.

The most recent border dispute started in June, when Indian soldiers stopped a Chinese army construction crew from building a road in a pocket of land in the Dokalam region. Since this land lies between Bhutan, China, and the Indian state of Sikkim, all three countries claim ownership of it. China calls this region Donglang and treats it as part of Chinese-controlled Tibet. Thus, China firmly believes that it has every right to build the road within its sovereign territory. China let India know that “trespass into Chinese territory is a blatant infringement on China’s sovereignty, which should be immediately and unconditionally rectified.” However, Bhutan and India disagree.

This Land Is My Land

Bhutan is a tiny country wedged between two nuclear-armed superpowers. It doesn’t have an official diplomatic relationship with China. The government of Bhutan issued a demarche to China over the road construction, asking China to stop. Since Bhutan has a close relationship with India and relies on India for security protection, it also asked India for help. China has tried unsuccessfully to break the Bhutan-India alliance by engaging Bhutan directly. Bhutan, however, follows India’s lead on this matter.

From India’s perspective, it intervenes on behalf of both India and Bhutan because both have historical claims to the disputed land. Since Beijing and New Delhi agreed back in 2012 to solve their particular border dispute in this tri-junction area through consultations with all countries involved, New Delhi regards China’s recent road construction as a unilateral violation of the 2012 understanding.

Furthermore, India’s military is concerned that the road China intends to build will give China easier access to a strategically important area in India, which is known as the “chicken’s neck,” “a 20km (12-mile) wide corridor that links the seven north-eastern states to the Indian mainland.” If China’s road project succeeds, India military believes it would diminish their own “terrain and tactical advantage” over the Chinese army in this area.

India is also suspicious of the road project’s timing. The construction began right around the same time that India’s Prime Minister Modi was giving U.S. President Trump bear hugs and President Trump proclaimed that the U.S.-India relationship was “never better.” Did China try to warn India not to get too close to the United States by starting a road construction in the disputed area at this particular time? Many in India seem to think so.

Soldiers Face Off ‘Eyeball to Eyeball’

The border standoff continues with no obvious solution in sight. Both China and India increased their troop levels at the border. Online video shows soldiers from both countries facing off “eyeball to eyeball.” So far no one has fired the first shot yet, but the war of words has been heating up, not just at the border, but through both countries’ government officials and media.

China’s ambassador to India said “the first priority is that the Indian troops unconditionally pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. That is the precondition for any meaningful dialogue between China and India.” Chinese media used the 1962 Sino-India border war as an example to forewarn India that if the two sides get into a military conflict again, India will have the most to lose. Chinese media also warned Tibetan exiles in India not to take advantage of the situation because “sovereignty over Tibet is nonnegotiable.”

Indian Defense and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley fired back at China’s rhetoric by reminding China that the India of 2017 is not the India of 1962. He further pointed out that China’s intended construction site was on “Bhutan’s land, close to the Indian border, and Bhutan and India have an arrangement to provide security…To say we will come there and grab the land of some other country is what China is doing and it is absolutely wrong.”

Any Misstep Can Be Fatal

This dispute is a reflection of a deeper problem: the underlying, deep-rooted mistrust and hostility between China and India. Each feels insecure of the other nation’s growing economic and military power. These two countries, with a combined population of more than 2 billion people, both have nuclear weapons and strong nationalistic leaders, and are elbowing each other for the iron throne—ultimate dominance in the region. No one is willing to back down at this point.

Besides border disputes, both nations have breathed plenty of fires to irritate the other side. China’s pipeline project with Myanmar not only allows China to have easier access to cheap oil, but also enables Chinese ships to be present in India’s eastern backyard. India snubbed China’s “One Belt and One Road”(OBOR) economic summit in May by not sending a high-level delegation. India media even called the OBOR initiative “a new kind of colonization.” Starting this week, India is holding naval exercises with the United States and Japan, a move viewed by observers as a show of force against China’s rising naval power.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the 1962 war, it’s this: any miscalculation or any missteps by either nation could lead to a war with devastating consequences not just for the region, but for the rest of the world. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that the two nations find a peaceful resolution to their border dispute as soon as possible.

The United States probably will need support from both China and India to deal with the rising threat from North Korea. Therefore, it’s in the United States’ best interest to serve as a mediator to help both nations reach a diplomatic solution, before the “Game of Thrones” Asian edition moves from a fantasy to a bloody reality.

Helen Raleigh owns Red Meadow Advisors, LLC, and is an immigration policy fellow at the Centennial Institute in Colorado. She is the author of several books, including “Confucius Never Said” and “The Broken Welcome Mat.

Malabar Exercise: India, US and Japan deploy its biggest carriers in show of force against China’s growing naval power

July 10, 2017

Malabar Exercise: India, US and Japan deploy its biggest carriers in show of force against China’s growing naval power, South China Morning Post, July 10, 2017

(Please see also, Commentary: India must understand borderline is bottom line from Chinese official paper Xinhua. “India should rectify its mistakes and show sincerity to avoid an even more serious situation creating more significant consequences.” — DM)

Troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbours have for weeks been engaged in a stand-off on a disputed section of land high near what is known as the trijunction, where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet.

China has alleged that the Indian troops are on its soil, but both Bhutan and India say the area in question is Bhutanese territory.

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India began holding naval exercises with the United States and Japan off its south coast on Monday, seeking to forge closer military ties to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

India has a longstanding territorial dispute with its northern neighbour, which is also expanding its naval presence in the region.

It is the fourth consecutive year Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) has taken part in the Malabar Exercise, conducted annually by the US and India in the Bay of Bengal since 1992.

In a statement, the US said the exercises had “grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific”.

About 20 vessels including the world’s largest aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz, are participating in drills which will last until July 17.

Helicopter carrier Izumo, the biggest Japanese warship since the second world war, and India’s aircraft carrier Vikramaditya are also participating in the exercises.

China has stepped up its activities in the Indian Ocean in recent years, building ports in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The area also features heavily in Beijing’s new One Belt One Road initiative to revive ancient trade routes from Asia, which has caused concerns in New Delhi.

Troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbours have for weeks been engaged in a stand-off on a disputed section of land high near what is known as the trijunction, where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet.

China has alleged that the Indian troops are on its soil, but both Bhutan and India say the area in question is Bhutanese territory.

The maritime exercises come weeks after US President Donald Trump declared that ties between Washington and New Delhi had “never been stronger” as he held his first talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Beijing already claims large swathes of the resource-rich South China Sea and East China Sea, putting it in competition with Japan and other countries in the region.