The article is presenting what the Chinese are writing about India and the Indian Army in their Chinese Media.
The Economist, in its May 28th issue carried a story on China’s Wolf Warrior diplomacy and called it a gamble. The article was written after the release of Chinese action flick “Wolf Warrior 2,” the highest-grossing film in Chinese history. “This action flick is both preposterous and oddly compelling, offering clues about the sort of China that modern-day patriots yearn to see on screen. That China is formidable,” (https://www.economist.com/china/2020/05/28/chinas-wolf-warrior-diplomacy-gamble) the article said.
In the sequel (Wolf Warrior 1 was released in 2017), the “Wolf Warrior” hero, Leng Feng, kills the savage, American leader of a group of mercenaries in hand-to-hand combat. Severely critical of a new crop of younger diplomats – who were egged on by the foreign minister Wang Yi – for ditching established norms of diplomacy in favour of aggressively promoting China’s self-serving Covid-19 narrative, The Economist reminded Chinese foreign ministry mandarins “foreign policy is not an action film.”
But graphic descriptions of what happened in Galwan on June 15 night could easily be mistaken as scenes of combat between African mercenaries and the Peoples’ Liberation Army commandos out of the film Wolf Warrior 2. (https://www.firstpost.com/india/pla-death-squads-hunted-down-indian-troops-in-galwan-valley-army-suffered-its-worst-losses-since-kargil-war-8491391.html). The hand-to-hand combat has been described by military experts as the most savage, with few parallels in the history of modern armies. The bloody, barbaric clashes on the dreadful night left twenty Indian soldiers, including a senior commanding officer, brutally murdered.
Not surprisingly, China has been tight-lipped on the number of casualties the PLA suffered (reports have just come in that China too has lost one commanding officer). However, inputs from multiple sources, including the Indian Army, suggested the Indian soldiers “ended up snapping the necks of at least 18 PLA men and smashing their faces with stones, some beyond recognition.” (https://eurasiantimes.com/the-bravery-of-bihar-regiment-soldiers-at-galwan-valley-against-chinas-pla-troops-goes-viral/)
Like the China of the film is self-confident, “state-run media in China has been engaging in open posturing of the communist nation’s military capabilities since the standoff with India at Ladakh started in early May,” observed the Indian authoritative military affairs India Defence News last Tuesday. (http://www.indiandefensenews.in/2020/06/india-will-be-more-humiliated-than.html)
From Doklam to Galwan
That Doklam standoff three summers ago ended leaving China (and the PLA) hugely embarrassed and humiliated is too well-known among strategic affairs community both within PRC and abroad. What may not be widely known outside China is, the Doklam crisis is counted as among China’s top five diplomatic failures in the year 2017 of “Xi-style new era” diplomacy (https://thediplomat.com/2018/01/china-is-starting-to-see-india-as-a-major-threat/).
According to well-known current affairs commentator, Yin Guoming, during the Doklam faceoff, it became very clear to everyone – from ordinary Chinese to foreign policy and military experts – China must reckon India to be its second biggest rival following the US. “China needs to re-assess, re-examine and, reformulate its India strategy,” Guoming further noted. (https://www.kunlunce.com/e/wap/show.php?bclassid=&classid=156&id=121772) Echoing Guoming’s comments, another commentary in Chinese had warned India to be battle-ready in the near future. Titled “Let there be no illusion, China will soon settle score with India in another battle,” the commentary, without mincing words, clearly stated the potential threat India will become for China in coming years.
“India should not be underestimated. It may not become China’s real opponent, but it is likely to emerge the second stumbling block in China’s rise. The number one stumbling block is, of course, the United States.” (https://www.kunlunce.com/e/wap/show.php?bclassid=&classid=208&id=117273)
Galwan: Lessons learnt from Doklam
A couple of days before the ghastly “15 June night,” Jayadeva Ranade, India’s top expert on PLA as well as China’s military and strategic thinking, was quoted in both the national and international media as saying it is not clear “why China carried out an operation that needed so much planning and money.” Well, to anyone following Chinese media commentaries on the border confrontation with India, it was all out there and clearly articulated in early May itself, or even earlier, that China had been awaiting a fresh flare up along the LAC in Ladakh.
Accusing India of crossing the boundary line in the Galwan Valley region and entering Chinese territory since early May, Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations (IIR), Shanghai Social Science Academy (SAAS), had said, “Galwan Valley is not like Doklam because it is in the Aksai Chin region in southern Xinjiang, where the Chinese military has an advantage and mature infrastructure. So, if India escalates the friction, the Indian military force could pay a heavy price.” (https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1188681.shtml)
It is pertinent to remember therefore that during the current border tensions in Ladakh, unlike during the Doklam “crisis,” the Chinese narrative has mostly neither employed the phrase “standoff” Duizhi nor “faceoff” or Duikang; instead, nearly all Chinese op-ed pieces and commentaries have used the expression (India’s) “provocative action” or Tiaoxin xingdong.
In the past seven days, a series of articles and commentaries have appeared in Chinese media outlets, including on the social media, providing us with full details of the Galwan incident. Several of these commentaries claim, the Indian Army displayed a poor common sense and complete lack of military logic by going into the Galwan Valley “combat” unprepared. Some of the “errors” committed are: poor strategy, no reserve team or backup, no idea of the ground reality and absolutely clueless of the PLA deployment on the mountainside.
In short, Indian Army committed a suicidal mission and made it easy for the PLA to restore the Doklam “failure,” the commentaries pointed out. On June 21, a popular mobile phone Mandarin language news App, Xun yan zi lou, run by the influential Guancha.com, and picked up by all major official news outlets, including the PLA Daily website carried an article titled “Indian troops actions displayed poor military sense.” (https://mil.sina.cn/zgjq/2020-06-22/detail-iircuyvi9789423.d.html?from=wap) Written by Xiao Wu, the editor of the news portal, the article highlighted three errors of judgement on the part of the Indian military “misadventure” on the fateful night, namely: no military logic; poor military strategy; and inadequate terrain knowledge. “They were caught in a classic situation in which they found themselves nowhere to run,” Xiao Wu wrote.
Why Galwan is not Doklam ?
An article in the Communist Party-run current affairs website Utopia last Friday, blamed Indian arrogance for its continuously provocative behaviour along the LAC. Irked and annoyed by India’s unrelenting belligerence in recent years, in particular in what happened in Doklam three years ago, the Chinese or the PLA it seems were waiting for an opportunity to “outpunch” and humiliate India. “For India, an ignorant South Asian hegemon, China’s patient and compromising approach is increasingly proving out to be of little or no use. It will only make it worse. To permanently resolve Indian belligerent attitude against China and ensure security along China’s western border, the time has now come for China to go for a decisive offensive against India and recover all Chinese territory under the Indian occupation, including southern Tibet,” it said.
The article at best can be viewed as revealing a significant change in China’s approach toward the “nagging” neighbours. And without mincing words, the article’s tone and tenor is a declaration that “enough is enough” and it is time for China to “tame” all belligerent, unfriendly countries in its surroundings. Elaborating on political and strategic aspects of why the Indian Galwan mission was bound to end in failure, Bai Guangcan, an India specialist has wondered “why the Indian offensive in Galwan was much less ‘unyielding’ as compared with the Doklam standoff.” (https://www.kunlunce.com/e/wap/show.php?classid=176&id=144585&bclassid=1) “If China must fight, of course, it cannot be limited to a certain point of conflict along the Sino-Indian border, which is totally meaningless. Instead, China should plan a fresh effort aimed at winning back all Chinese territory which India has been occupying,” the article observed.
Emphasising on realizing twin goals of “rejuvenating Chinese nation” and “China Dream,” another article in Utopia went a step further by underlining the significance of a decisive victory against India. “Chinese victory against India, China’s recovery of lost territory to India, and China succeeding in securing permanently its western border will no doubt send clear signals to Taiwan too. It [victory against India] will definitely deter the Taiwan authorities from the idea of using force against the mainland and may even promote the peaceful reunification with the mainland.”
Furthermore, on why all or most Chinese commentators and analysts are comparing China’s Galwan “victory” with Doklam “embarrassment,” China’s foremost military affairs commentator and a professor at the National Defence University of the People’s Liberation Army, Jin Yinan told the Central Chinese Radio in an interview three days ago: “Our army has taught India a lesson in the Galwan Valley.” (http://m.cnr.cn/mil/20200623/t20200623_525140587.html)
Finally, if what these recent spate of post-Galwan commentaries are revealing is true, especially as one article proclaimed “Indian Army’s poor sense of military logic in Galwan makes easy for PLA to regain lost honour in Doklam,” then it is time also to acknowledge what a commentary three years ago in The Diplomat had said of China’s resolve to “not just sit and watch and let India become a threat.”