India and China in the Clash for Ladakh Commentary: China does not need to wage war on India insofar as it can force the Indian government to do what China wants. China also wants to reaffirm mutual neutrality between China and India, while it thinks that Indian President Modi has above all nationalistic aims in the Himalayan region and in the arc of the Three Borders. In essence, Modi’s India has chosen on which side to stand in the next “Cold War”, which in any case has already started. By Giancarlo Elia Valori

Indian army trucks move along a highway leading to Ladakh. Photo: Reuters

On June 15, 2020 the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) shot some Indian soldiers dead – approximately 20 – in Galwan, a valley and a river of the Ladakh region. 

The territorial issue in that region is still very difficult to settle: the 1993 Line of Actual Control (LAC) has included 60 square kilometers of ancient Indian territory into the China-controlled area. The control of the DSDBO – Darbuk, Shyak, Daulat Beg and Oldi, the 225 kilometer road that connects the Ladakh region and the Galwan Valley with the outside world – is still to be defined. 

For India, in the north of Ladakh, there is also the possibility of a simultaneous war on two fronts, with Pakistan in the Siachen glacier and with China in the rest of the North. 

China has also shown it is not interested in five different peace agreements – in 1993, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2013 – defined as early as the 1962 war between India and China.

The “forgotten conflict” that John Fitzgerald Kennedy did not use in the global confrontation with Communism, later choosing – and ill became of it – the confrontation with the Vietminh in South Vietnam.

In 1993 China asked India to stop the extension of the DSDBO and also the return of the Indian troops into the northern area of Ladakh. India, however, is blocked by considerable internal terrorism and by the strong tensions in Jammu-e-Kashmir, as well as by the traditional policy of opposition to Pakistan and finally, by the new maritime trends in the South and the ever more difficult coexistence between Hindus and Islamists. 

Certainly, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can fight three modern wars simultaneously: the cyber-warfare, the space and finally the electromagnetic wars.

In conventional terms, China can currently fight a limited regional war and a larger global war, again simultaneously.

Hence what does China really want from India? Firstly, hands free on a border, like Ladakh’s, which is vital to the already started New Silk Road

Many Indian leaders have long been asking China to make the BRI corridor cross Kunming in Southwest China up to the port of Kolkata, where it could reconnect to the maritime “Silk Road” through the Bay of Bengal.

Or China and its Silk Road could enter Uttakharand, via Kailash Manasarovar in Tibet to later reach the port of Mumbai. This is one of the real issues of contention.

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