The ninth round of military dialogue between India and China is expected to take place as soon as the newly-appointed PLA Western Theatre Commander Gen Zhang Xudong completes his military familiarization and troop deployments on the Indian border.
Unlike his predecessor, Tibet veteran Gen Zhao Zongqi, Gen Zhang has no experience of service on the Indian border. Gen Zhao is attributed as the principal implementor of the Doklam aggression in 2017 and East Ladakh skirmish in 2020.
Chinese state media continues to blame India for exaggerating the threat and using it to decouple economic ties. The propaganda wing has resorted to fabricating untested and unproven military power differential of the two neighbors. CCP mouthpieces have also actively engaged in mocking Indian Army Chief Gen MM Naravane multiple times particularly of his visit to the front-lines of Ladakh on the southern banks of the Pangong Tso.
China is facing difficulties in sustaining its 40,000 troops posted in subzero conditions. The strategy of limited coercion and moral ascendancy does not seem to be working for the PLA given the out-of-proportion deployment and may cause major logistics issues in the event of another face-off. Military coercion coupled with psychological warfare was set to be the magic spell but no signs of success of the aforementioned tactics seems to be on the books for the dragon nation anytime soon.
Around 10,000 Chinese troops were withdrawn, according to a recent update from government sources, from depth areas of the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh. The traditional training areas are 150 kilometers beyond the Indian side of LAC. China had aggressively maintained troops in the area since April 2020. The reason for the movement of troops may possibly be due to the extreme weather conditions that the newly inducted semi-trained troops may be finding difficult to cope with.
China has tried to rapidly expand its troops in a rush to secure the top spot globally whilst ignoring the efficacy of its training operations that have continued to bear lackluster results in the form of poor performance of Chinese troops.
India immediately responded with rapid deployment of its own highly trained troops skilled particularly in winter warfare to prevent any transgressions by the PLA. The Indian Army pre-empted Chinese plans to force the 1959 line on the southern banks on 29 August 2020 and currently dominates the Rezang-La and Rechen-La strategic heights of the Kailash Ranges.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police have also worked closely with the Indian Army to ensure coordinated efforts against Chinese nuisance on the borders. The ITBP has already embarrassed PLA in the ongoing conflict with strong counters to initial violent face-offs despite being outnumbered at Pangong Lake, Finger area and Patrolling Points 14, 15, 17 and 17A.
The ITBP has been integral in the safekeeping of the sensitive Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh which is subjected to constant Chinese aggression. Armed with snow suits and yaks for transport, ITBP troops continue their patrols despite freezing winds that reach speeds of 40-50 knots in the LAC.
Days after India and China agreed to work towards complete disengagement of troops, China responded by deploying 30-35 tanks opposite Indian posts at Rezang-La, Rechen-La and Mukhosri.
India is not bowing to China’s dispersed, but continued, bursts of small pockets of hostility aimed at tiring out the India’s military prowess on the borders. China has also tried to utilize its ‘iron brother’ Pakistan’s terror connections to cause ruckus for Indian forces particularly in Kashmir as well as funding militia in the north-eastern states through Burmese outfits. USA has expressed support for India to counter ‘aggressive Chinese actions’ at the LAC.
The Chinese Communist Party has had to grudgingly accept India’s lead in planning small-scale multilateral cooperation mechanisms in the Indian Ocean preventing Chinese maritime intimidation tactics. China has faced severe setbacks- and for a vain leadership as that, it is inevitable that some sort of ego-boosting gimmicks will set foot in the near future. Any failure on this front is only set to corrode Xi’s image that has already been tainted by draconian policies that have diluted all possible human rights in the technocracy.