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Indian response to Chinese intrusion in Daulat Beg Oldie
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Danvir Singh | Date:05 May , 2013 9 Comments
Danvir Singh
Associate Editor, Indian Defence Review, former Commanding Officer, 9 Sikh LI and author of  book "Kashmir's Death Trap: Tales of Perfidy and Valour".

  Indian foreign policy analysts and experts categorise our policy into three distinctive phases of evolution. The first phase was the Nehruvian era based on idealism, the foundations of which were shattered by the Chinese aggression and India suffered a humiliating defeat in 1962. Then came the second phase, a period of real and power politics that started somewhere in the late 1960s and lasted till the end of 80s.  In 1991 came the much awaited economic reforms, initiating an era of pragmatism; the third phase.

We displayed to the world our capability to handle adverse situations simultaneously on two fronts,

As an ex-military man the period of the seventies and the eighties excites me the most. During this phase India liberated Bangladesh and a new country was carved out of Pakistan. In 1974 India exploded nuclear  device and further in 1984 we displayed our ability to fight at altitudes up to 21000 feet by capturing the Siachen Glacier. India displayed its hegemonic status in the region when the Indian army entered Sri Lanka with a peace keeping force in 1987, aimed at ending the Sri Lankan civil war. In 1988 the Indian armed forces intervened in Maldives and the coup d’état against Gayoom’s presidency failed.  We displayed to the world our capability to handle adverse situations simultaneously on two fronts, while India was conducting its largest ever military exercise under code name operation Brasstacks   near Indo-Pak border in 1986, the  Chinese intruded into our area of  Sumdorong Chu valley in Arunanchal.  Indian political and military leadership responded expeditiously and  mobilised troops under operation Falcon followed by Exercise Chequerboard to counter the Chinese. India  not only contained the belligerent Chinese action but also set in motion a diplomatic exercise that resulted in various agreements on border issue and de-escalated the tense situation amicably .

… India can ill afford to trivialise the Chinese intrusion in to our territory as a routine and a localised affair, arisen due to differing perceptions of the LAC.

In the present era of pragmatism, our economic interests guide our geo-political interests. Whatever may be the guidelines of the phase three of our foreign policy, India can ill afford to trivialise the Chinese intrusion in to our territory as a routine and a localised affair, arisen due to differing perceptions of the LAC.  Lately our country has witnessed meek responses to the Pakistani or Chinese sponsored crisis. Be it the terrorist strikes by Pakistani non state actors, or Chinese violation of LAC, or their veiled threat to our growing cooperation with Vietnam in oil exploration in the South China Sea, India has displayed lack of will in  sending  strong signals that should radiate from an  emerging regional super power.

Before suggesting a response to this intrusion in Depsang Valley it is important to visit certain timelines in the history.

  • Quing dynasty invaded Tibet in 1910 and annexed it. The 13th Dali lama,  ruler of Tibet, fled and took refuge in India.
  • Three years later he returned triumphantly and reclaimed his throne and authority; a historical reminder that keeps China worried, in the present contest of 14th Dali Lama and his government in exile at Dharamshala.
  • China never recognised any boundary agreement between British India and the Tibet in 1914  Simla convection.
  • British India also changed stance over the perceived boundary in the western sector in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
  • Initially in 1865 it was the Jhonson line along the watershed of Kunlun mountain range and later a revised boundary Macartney- MacDonald line generally same as the present LAC.
  • Finally at the time of independence we inherited a boundary which was a mix of Jhonson and McDonald line in Ladhak region and a vague McMohan line in the North East Frontiers of Arunanchal.
  • China annexed Tibet again in 1950 and India provided asylum to the Dali Lama and his followers. This Irked the Chinese and the build-up of events thereafter led to a humiliating Indian defeat in the 1962 war.
  • There was a standoff between the two armies in 1967 at Nathu La in Sikkim and later in 1986 at Sumdorong Chu in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The decade of 90s saw a number of agreements between the two neighbours for maintaining peace and tranquillity over the border and instituting various Confidence Building Security Measures.
…the Chinese behaviour is on the expected lines in conformity to her aspirations in future.

Today China is the fastest growing economy with growth rate of 10 per cent   roughly   double to   that of India. China has a defence budget of 115.7 billion dollars, nearly three times more than the Indian spending on defence. It sees India as a competitor in this region and a hurdle towards realisation of her super power aspirations.  The rising Dragon foresees future conflicts with India over energy security in The South China Sea or the Indian Ocean and therefore wants to keep alive the boundary issue. This is intended to be used  as a  leverage by the Chinese in containing the rise of India. The strategic encirclement by the string of pearls is in sync with their overall strategic vision against India.

As we analyse the historical past, the Chinese behaviour is on the expected lines in conformity to her aspirations in future.  India needs to explore some hard options  by gtting down to real politk. In my opinion  India has three  options.

  • First Option – Indian acquiescence to the hegemonic stature of a belligerent China over the boundary situation and seek a quiet solution.
  • Second Option – India to take actions on the lines  of 1986 Sumdorong Chu intrusion and enter into a dialogue from a position of strength.
  • Third Option – India to carry out action as stated in option two. In addition undertake extensive joint military training exercises by the army and the air force all along the LAC. The Indian Navy simultaneously to carry out training manoeuvres in the South China Sea. This way a strong message will go across the Himalayas and establish India as an emerging regional and a global power.

Whatever decision India takes and whichever option it opts to overcome the perennial Security threat emanating from China, our actions will be closely watched by the countries of this region who are threatened by  the hegemonic stature of the Dragon. Any move by India asserting its national interest  will set the agenda for future dealings with the Chinese in the decades to come. This intrusion is more than acne on a scared face and the beauty restoration would require serious therapy rather than a pimple cream.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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9 thoughts on “Indian response to Chinese intrusion in Daulat Beg Oldie

  1. indians are really jokers among nations of this planet india i think more better word londia can be super power in producing prostitutes and brothels, a nation(londians) cant clean dust on their bodies see dremas of becoming super power>lol please go to bombay air port and see how indians put dirt and spit on walls,lol,

    • Dear Yaz,

      Since lots of spam comments is coming and software have to filter them. You are requested not to put website name, just put your name, email address and then comment. Otherwise your comment may be removed.



  2. very well thought after and informative article…….
    i think we should opt for option 1 as we are not in position of war with mighty china…………… in no way demeans our militarily strength….we are on race for becoming superpower …that shud not be disturbed…..

  3. I agree with option 3 as it will make India’s stand strong and clear. Lets make Chinese realize the transformation in our military strength since 1962 and wash away their nuisance value en grilled in their minds…..

    But today when they have withdrawn from DBO without any show of force by India like 1986 ……..several questions are raised here on Chinese’s intentions……do we agree on surrendering chumar post……????

  4. Having read through the article I would fistly like to contradict the facts in para 2 where the author states that the Indian Army went into Sri Lanka and Maldives as part of hegemonistic designs; albeit in both the instances we went on an invitation from the respective sovereign governments. As a responsible member of the comity of nations I think we need to realise that peaceful diplomatic measures are the order of the day and they need to be fully exhausted before we even start thinking of a military response. My querry for the author is only one, if option 2 and 3 stated by him fail to evict the intrusion then what; will you then advocate a military response. I think we all, especially the media need to tone down the rehtoric and handle such situations with patience and maturity rather than jumping for the gun.

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