The Defence Secretary has reportedly informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that the Chinese intrusion at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) in Ladakh region is actually 19 kilometers deep inside Indian Territory. This should dispel any doubts that the intrusion is a localised affair. With the hold of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the PLA, promotions of PLA officers contingent upon favourable recommendations by the concerned Political Commissar overseeing particular unit/ formation, plus the PLA Chief reporting directly to the CCP instead of the Chinese Government, there is absolutely no possibility of a local commander taking an independent decision of this nature.
As per MEA, the presence of Chinese in the DBO Sector is kilometers ahead of even the Chinese perception of the LAC, records of which are available with the MEA.
If media reports of government having surmised this as a ‘localised affair’ are true, then the assessment appears misguided. Media also reports that this assessment is based on some inputs received during a flag meeting with the Chinese. Even if this has been conveyed by the Chinese during a flag meeting, its fallibility should be weighed against the Chinese Government assertion that there has not been any transgression across the LAC at all.
Under no circumstances can this intrusion be categorised as routine transgression based on Chinese perception of the LAC even as the 400 transgressions by PLA across the LAC during 2012 (as stated by the RakshaMantri) and similar intrusions in previous years were being brushed away routinely as the PLA coming up to “their perception of the LAC”. The seriousness of this intrusion (so far some 50 PLA in tented camp) must be viewed in light of the following:
- As per MEA, the presence of Chinese in the DBO Sector is kilometers ahead of even the Chinese perception of the LAC, records of which are available with the MEA.
- The Chinese Foreign Ministry is repeatedly asserting that there is no intrusion at DBO and that the PLA platoon is camping in Chinese territory.
- As reported in media, Chinese have put forward unacceptable preconditions to India as quid pro quo to withdraw from DBO.
Above should make it amply clear that China does not intend to vacate this intrusion and dialogue is not going to lead to this unless additional measures are enforced by India without beating of war drums to create situation for China to vacate DBO. However, before discussing such measures, it is important to look at the implications in the event that Chinese firm in permanently at DBO, which are as follows:
- Strategic importance of DBO lying astride the old silk route leading to Karakoram Pass (KK Pass) and beyond to Yarkand in China.
- Chinese occupation of DBO hindering Indian patrolling to KK Pass.
Possibility of DBO being used as a base to threaten the rout to Siachen Base Camp. The significance of DBO should also be linked with the
- strategically unsound proposal to withdraw from Siachen.
- The situation in Demchok on account of Chinese incursions and claims.
During Operation ‘Vijay’ in 1999, China quietly developed a road in eastern Aksai Chin towards DBO, significance of which was apparently glossed over. In 2012, China called upon Japan and South Korea to establish astronomical observatories in Aksai Chin.Google imagery of 2006 shows an extraordinary large scale (1:500) terrain model extensively duplicating eastern Aksai Chin built close to Yinchuan (capital of Ningxia Autonomous Region). The 3,000 × 2,300 feet model is being used for tank war-games – in preparation of a future battle in East Sikkim.
Quite contrary to what is being thought as a ‘localised action’, this Chinese intrusion is a well thought out strategy by China sowing the seeds for establishing a link between Gilgit-Baltistan with Aksai Chin. It is reiterated that Chinese consolidation in this area will threaten Siachen and any further expansion has the potential to turn the flanks of Indian occupation of Siachen Glacier on the same analogy as Chinese are claiming the Doklam Plateau in Bhutan, Chinese occupation of which will turn the flanks of Indian defences at Tri Junction in Sikkim. Should our policy makers fail to get over their pacifist illusion of China, the consequences will be severe. It should be quite clear that this intrusion cannot be resolved through dialogue alone. Not only should conditions be created to appropriately reply to the physical and psychological challenge posed by China, Beijing should be clearly told that what we do in our territory by way of improving infrastructure (Chinese infrastructure is already many times better than ours) or positioning of troops is none of their business. The bluff of Chinese preconditions must be called which is actually aimed at putting India at the back foot. Letting the Chinese consolidate in DBO negates resolutions passed in Parliament that J&K is integral part of India and we will not cede any territory.
Let a challenge be posed to China by establishing an Indian Army post behind the DBO intrusion…
We must draw lessons from earlier Sino-Indian standoffs that have made the Chinese turn their tails. Let a challenge be posed to China by establishing an Indian Army post behind the DBO intrusion,which in any event is our own territory and throw the mental gauntlet back at them(or in another sector ahead of our existing positions if escalation is not desired here). If the conflict does escalate, Chinese vulnerabilities can be exploited. On the diplomatic front, the Foreign Minister could shelve his visit to China citing unprecedented hostility by China through this deep intrusion and the Chinese should also be informed that the situation is not conducive for having purposeful talks during the proposed May 2013 visit of Chinese Prime MinisterLi Keqiang. Action needs to be taken at multiple levels. Unless we act resolutely now, more intrusions in Indian Territory are likely to follow.