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Ladakh Face Off

Scared Dragon's Tail on Fire: Xi's bid to Save Face at Home

Like all good stories, genesis of this one lies 4000 km east, in South China Seas, and Chinese failed bid to incorporate Taiwan in mainland China and establish dominion in South China Seas.

It also takes us few years back to the three-month standoff at Doklam in 2017, when India mothballed Chinese Army, and placed troops to prevent China from building a road into territory claimed by its ally, Bhutan. It worth noting, then also Xi’s clamor to “be prepared for any eventuality” was very well called a bluff, in a smug manner, by the Indian Government.

Since the beginning of this month, China India standoff, which started at Pangong Tso lake, has now escalated all along the LAC from Ladakh to Sikkim. This has resulted in a standard textbook response from the Indian Military, to move soldiers and activate its Military response machinery.

It is worth mentioning, that none of these places have a strategic value, where a soldier can be there to occupy it in all seasons to come. Hence if Indian or Chinese Army occupies a chunk of that land, they have to vacate during Winter months.

Implying, China is attempting to create a hullabaloo, which has no military value/objective it can hold on to.

 

Why is China is forced to carry out this needless venture, which it has not committed to in last 70 years? What is the Bigger Game at Hand?

Xi’s ‘South China Sea’ Debacle

Taiwan Integration gone Awry

The famed 2018 re-election for life, Xi Jinping’s rally for the same, was the buzzword “Reintegration of Taiwan into China mainland ” by 2020. Xi Jinping promised to take China to highest reaches of “Chinese Greatness” by 2050, and reassert Chinese pride by integrating Taiwan by 2020.

Xi was scheduled to gatecrash the presidential swearing-in of Taiwan on 20 May 2020 by invading Taiwan. Xi could not do so.

 

 

 

China got off to a good start. With COVID-19 all across the globe, China since 2019, has launched few militarily advanced technology weapon platforms. New warships were built at an incredible rate, radically modernizing the fleet and adding new capabilities, especially amphibious capability vessels.

Shanghai Shipyard: Dec 2019

With US Navy grappling with Coronavirus outbreak onboard its Ships, in early parts of the pandemic, China’s aggressiveness in South China Seas turned from aggressive to buccaneering. It rolled out its Aircraft Carrier, numerous destroyers, amphibious flotilla while daring Australian, Japanese and US Navy with its circus maneuvers.

However the tide turned and April saw US Navy destroyers patrolling aggressively in Spratly Islands, reassuring Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysian shipping’s. US  battle fleets had acquired military posture and positioned aggressively (Article of April 27)  from Japan and Guam, maintaining readiness.

Now, with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen taking oath for her second four-year term on 20 May 2020, it is past the inflection point, where Chinese PLA could have acted.

China has missed the flight, and Xi’s clueless policy of creating a Racket in South China Seas since outbreak of COVID-19 is nowadays under the lens.

He is desperately looking to lose off that heat on him, and what better place than familiar Indo-China faceoff along the LAC.

Reality of Chinese Standoff

Military Bluff?

Is the faceoff, a military/strategic gain point for China? Apparently No.

China with a total of 200,00-230,000 ground forces under the Western Theater Command, Tibet, and Xinjiang Military Districts, majority of forces are located further from the Indian border, posing a striking contrast with the majority of forward-deployed Indian forces.

In the event of a major standoff or conflict with India, it would have to rely upon mobilization primarily from Xinjiang and secondarily from the Western Theater Command forces deeper in China’s interior.

The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) also suffers from a numerical disparity to the IAF in the border region. Unlike the tripartite organizational division of Chinese ground forces facing India, the Western Theater Command has assumed control of all regional strike aircraft. In total, this amounts to around 157 fighters and a varied drone arsenal(Compared to India’s 200 fighters). This includes an estimated 20 GJ-1/WD-1K precision strike UAVs, 12 WD-1 ground attack and reconnaissance UAVs, 12 WD-1 precision strike UAVs, and 8 EA-03 reconnaissance and electronic warfare UAVs.

On a strict comparison of available 4th generation fighters, authoritative assessments hold that China’s J-10 fighter is technically comparable to India’s Mirage-2000 and that the Indian Su-30MKI is superior to all theater Chinese fighters, including the additional J-11 and Su-27 models.

However, The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel, whereas IAF shall launch from bases and airfields unaffected by these geographic conditions, with maximum payload and fuel capabilities. This is compounded by IAF’s capability of runway replacement fiberglass mats into its base defense systems, to overcome runway repaving in case of bombings of airfields.

In event of conflict, while ground forces are evenly poised on both sides, the apparent Air Superiority of IAF shall continue till 2025, whereby Chinese fifth-gen Aircraft are deployed, along with Long distance Bombers(under development).

Localized Sino – Indian Conflict?

With deployment of Indo-Pacific encompassing India, US, Australia, Japan with Chinese neighbors like Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia showing intent by acknowledging it, China finds itself in a bookshelf. At this moment, if Myanmar decides to be part of Anti-China axis, the scenario reeks of the worst nightmares of Chinese strategic defence.

Above is discounting the involvement of Russia to lay claim to the Natural Gas fields by Mongolia in Gobi Desert, in case of a Global Conflict.

Hence in case of an all out conflict at the LAC, other nations shall lay claim to their sovereignty from an increasingly belligerent China.

COVID-19 Triggered Economic Boycott

Xi has no answers to its Public

Post COVID-19 breakout, and to world’s horror, nations lay bare and dependent on China for consumer supply chain. This has triggered an almost synergic response from global companies to pull out from China, as their manufacturing base. Post-2018, with an economic downturn, 5 million Chinese workers were returning home, and with COVID-19, many more are laid waste.

There is widespread discontent in China and even within the Communist Party of China(CPC) . Public anger was visible in initial times of outbreak. One civil rights activist even published an open letter asking President Xi Jinping to resign.

Xi Jinping has no answer to this fact of Economic Boycott and downturn, and now expects to shift Chinese citizen’s focus towards ultra Han nationalism, by invoking threat from India.

 

Viewpoint

In 2018, with backdrop of Dhoklam, shown as a Chinese nationalist assertiveness in region, Xi Jinping got elected as President again, now for life.

Similar is the turn of events here, wherein China has its back against the wall.

China Great Again tagline of Xi Jinping has been severely dented, with inability to influence Taiwanese elections and forceful integration into mainland China. The Taiwanese government is in place, and militarily US and allies are in the region for any arm twisting tactics that Chinese may employ, for an amphibious assault on the Island. South China Seas are also being now opened and kept free of interference, by the alliance of US-led Indo Pacific.

Economically China has been stonewalled, and situation shall get worse, as thousands of countries pack their bags out of China. Global supply chain, which was dependent on China, has been exposed to be having deep fissures, especially with the Dirty Play history of CPC.

China cannot be trusted, and world order is going to see a panoramic shift  with the supply chain shifting to South East Asia and the Indian Sub Continent. This Xi is aware and needs to consolidate his existence in China.

Chinese consolidation of Hong Kong is already in the UN for discussion, and it is unlikely that China can get away with it in any near future. Combine it with the reparations(Article of April 23) that world order is demanding of China, Xi has a serious situation at hand.

What better way out, than to create a charade along the LAC. That is the safest place, where Xi Jinping can create news, deliver fake news to its domestic audience about a great Chinese Victory(Chinese media is deeply state controlled), and consolidate the rapidly shifting ground below his feet.

30 May 20/Saturday                                                                                  Written By: Fayaz

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