Geopolitics

The Chinese are coming!
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 20 Aug , 2012

The Dragon has emerged from its lair with a vengeance.

A senior Indian army officer was denied an official Chinese visa on the grounds that he was commanding in Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory according to the Chinese.

The Chinese occupy considerable amount of territory in Ladakh, which they captured in 1962. They are now slowly making inroads into the Indus Valley and other areas. In 1963, Pakistan had illegally ceded some 5,000 square km (2000 sq miles) in the area of the Karakoram to China.

Pakistan is now reported to have handed over control of the major part of the northern territories to China. Media reports indicate that there are some 10,000 Chinese soldiers based in Gilgit on the pretext of protecting the widening work on the Karakoram Highway and the construction of a railway line to link east Tibet with the Pakistani port of Gwadar in the Gulf of Oman.

The Russians in the 19th and 20th centuries dreamt of a getting warm water port on the Arabian Sea. The Chinese seem well on the way to fulfilling this Russian dream.

In a further move to encircle India by sea, the Chinese are establishing naval and air bases on Myanmar’s Ramree Island in the Bay of Bengal. (Incidentally, I took part in the amphibious assault on Ramree Island during World War II). These bases on Ramree Island will help the Chinese in their endeavors to control the upper Bay of Bengal and pose a threat to Kolkata, Vishakapatnam and the Andamans.

The presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit is a matter of great concern. During the Kargil conflict, the five battalions of the intruding paramilitary Northern Rifles were maintained from Gilgit and thence from Skardu. There is a good road from Gilgit to Skardu. In pre-Partition days, road communications to Gilgit were along the Kargil-Skardu-Gilgit route. This section can easily be restored in a short period of time.

The reported presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit poses a serious threat to Indian road communications to Ladakh running through Kargil.

Another matter of concern is the increased Chinese interest in the Indus Valley. The easiest approach to Leh is along this valley. The Chinese have not only shown interest in the Indus Valley but also the Karakoram Pass between India and China.

… concern is the increased Chinese interest in the Indus Valley. The easiest approach to Leh is along this valley. The Chinese have not only shown interest in the Indus Valley but also the Karakoram Pass between India and China.

Any Chinese move through the Karakoram Pass will threaten our troops in Siachen and our base at Thoise. In the contingency of any future conflict with the Chinese, new areas of conflict in Ladakh will open up. I served in Ladakh for two years immediately after the Chinese invasion of 1962, and it also fell under my purview subsequently as Chief of Staff and Army Commander covering the northeast. During this period there were many incursions and incidents.

Keeping these factors in mind, there is an urgent requirement for another division and supporting armour to be raised for the defence of Ladakh and two more for the north east.

In the northeast, the Chinese may, after negotiations, reduce their claims from the whole of Arunachal to the Tawang tract and Walong.

Major Bob Kathing and his Assam Rifles platoon only moved to take control of Tawang in the spring of 1951. The Chinese had placed a pillar in Walong in the 1870s. They have built up the road, rail and air infrastructure in Tibet. It is assessed that the Chinese can now induct some 30 divisions there in a matter of weeks.

We are committed to ensure the defence of Bhutan. We need at least two divisions plus for the defence of Bhutan. In West Bhutan, the Chinese have moved upto the Torsa Nulla. From there it is not far to Siliguri via Jaldakha. This remains the most serious potential threat to the Siliguri corridor.

The Chinese have developed the infrastructure in Tibet to enable them to mount operations all along the border. We are still in the process of upgrading our infrastructure in the north east. It will take many more years before the infrastructure in the north east is upgraded to what is required. Thus we need to raise two more divisions and an armoured brigade for the north east.

The increasing military collaboration between China and Pakistan is of growing concern, but we seem woefully unprepared for this contingency.

There is an urgent requirement for more artillery, firepower and mobility. More helicopters are also needed to ensure mobility. Mobility is a key factor in military operations. Mobility is necessary to obtain flexibility as also the ability to react in fluid operations. In order to ensure the means to react, we need reserves. These reserves have yet to be created.

The Air Force needs to deploy more squadrons in that region, since, unlike 1962, the Air Force will play a decisive role in any future operations.

The Chinese are also said to be re-establishing their earlier links with the Naga insurgents.

In 1974/75, I was in charge of operations that intercepted two Naga gangs going to China to collect weapons and money. The Nagas were then compelled to sign the Shillong Accord, and Chinese support for the Naga insurgents was put on the backburner. Twelve years of peace followed. But now, the Chinese, in collusion with the Pakistani ISI, are said to be in the process of re-activating their support of the Naga insurgents as part of an overall scheme to destabilize the north east.

The increasing military collaboration between China and Pakistan is of growing concern, but we seem woefully unprepared for this contingency.

The government urgently needs to expedite the induction of land, air and naval weapons systems and to build up the required reserves of ammunition and spares. In any future conflict, logistics will be of paramount importance.

During the 1971 war, it took me some six months to build up the infrastructure for the operations in East Pakistan. The requirements now are far, far greater. Modern weapons systems take a long time to induct and absorb. The induction of new weapons systems and build up of logistical backing should be initiated on an emergency footing.

At the moment, we seem to have insufficient resources to meet this contingency.

We are critically short of modern weapons systems and weaponry. No new 155mm guns have been inducted for some two decades.

During the limited Kargil conflict, we ran out of 155mm ammunition for the Bofors field guns. Fortunately for us, the Israelis flew out the required ammunition.

New aircraft for our Air Force are yet to be inducted. The navy is short of vital weapons systems. These shortages need to be addressed at the earliest.

There is no Soviet Union with its Treaty of Friendship to help us now [in 1971, the Soviets moved 40 divisions to the Xinjiang and seven to the Manchurian borders to deter the Chinese]. We have to rely on our own resources. We must show that we have the will and wherewithal to meet the emerging contingencies.

It is high time the government reappraises the emerging situation and puts in place the measures required to meet the developments, before it is too late.

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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.

About the Author

Lt Gen JFR Jacob

General JFR Jacob, the hero of the 1971 India Pakistan war, recalls how former comrades in arms turned into bitter, life-long enemies post partition.

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6 thoughts on “The Chinese are coming!

  1. Most of the areas you’re talking about seem to be Tibetan which are genetically Chinese. They are not Aryan, yet they’re are controlled by India. So, don’t be surprised if they swing back to their mongol roots.

  2. People can talk and argue all they want! Gen Jacob is 100% right in his estimates. The Chinese could be down to the Holy Ganges from Patna along the whole length of UP in a matter of weeks; India’s tail in the North-east and head in Kashmir can both be chopped off if China is determined. The Godly fact is that India is woefully deficient in military resources.

    The politicians are LAUGHING at the generals, admirals, and marshalls — bravely claiming that they are preventing the smart military men from running the country — when the truth is that the politicians have no clue about national defense and sadistically enjoy cutting India’s balls while enjoying their unholy durbars of power.

    On the other hand, the 2 and 3 star people are some of the most arrogant men in India! Maybe you can’t blame them. But, no wonder then that the bureaucrats and politicians can’t see eye to eye with them.

    But, can both be right, or does one of the two groups have to be wrong?

    It is only when economic growth is linked to defense production will India be able to come out of its mess, if it’s not too late by then.

    A leadership that benefits all religious communities and is nationalistic minded with a strong understanding of engineering and economics is what is desperately needed. But who has that type of knowledge, character and personality?

  3. Waving red flags to China will not help. We have to have a dissuasive strategy to keep China on its toes and worry for Cyber war tactics. . Land war unlikely with China. Skirmishes Yes, as it claims areas.

    Gen Jacob is very good and a hero, but he has to accept India will not be able to get an inch of POK without war …Its gone and done, so China has an international border with Pakistan and part of POK legally taken and China will make inroads in to Pakistan to get a warm water port like India does to seek space in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) where India has advantage..

    China has risen and its economy is world’s No 2 already and will aspire to keep USA away from Taiwan so it can absorb Taiwan ( half job done already with opened up trade and tourism and marriages) ,do every thing possible to seek resources for its 1.3 bill people from South China Sea and Africa via IOR and build up a military to see it can dominate as it did in the Middle Kingdom days till it reaches super power status. India has to seek advantage in the seas with a pruned technologically superior Army….India cannot afford to modernise a huge 1.1 mill Army .and is faltering. .

    If India is not confident to safe guard it self by itself it has to look for selected partnering with like minded nations.

  4. We seem to live in a world of denial. L&T who have setup a subramine facility we do not use those for new nuclear subs. No new planes and new submarines. We will loose most of north east if its a long war and then people will give all the standard excuses. The price of peace is sometimes war but that is something which we will never understand as Indians. The only reason America and Soviet Union did not go to war was because of the respect they had for each others military capability. Look at US in Iraq case in point Sadam did not have a defence force to back him up. We have been invaded and occupied by so many civilizations. It is in our ethos to sit on our backside and hope things blow by. I do not advocate violence but bullies only respect those who stand up to them.

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