The employment of the Vikas (Special Frontier Force) battalion has sent a strong message to China, which they would have registered. The troops of this battalion are wards of original Tibetan refugees. Their being involved in countering the Chinese in an area bordering Tibet conveys without officially stating that India has discarded its One-China policy. For Tibetans, the message is that externally their nationals are engaging the Chinese, if they raise their own anger within, it could add to Chinese woes.
The Chinese game plan is evident. Post the initial disengagement when troops moved to safe distances, avoiding physical clash, China began procrastinating pull back. It put forth conditions which were unacceptable, while not adhering to agreed norms. India rejected Chinese preconditions and insisted on status quo ante. Throughout China is seeking to push the LAC westwards, not to grab territory alone, but to let the Indian nation and Government down in global eyes. This has been unacceptable to India.
India responded by economic actions, decoupling economies and enhancing costs on China. The Chinese protested, realising that they are losing a major market. They continuously stated in every forum,that economic and border issues should be delinked. India refused to buckle, adding more blocks on Chinese apps. The Chinese foreign minister, on a tour of Europe, stated that LAC incidents would continue as the same is not defined. Resolution, if any, would hinge on the talks between the two foreign ministers in Moscow.
Never has India taken such firm steps against China. In Doklam, the force levels were far lower. Never has India appeared as strong on countering China as it currently does. Its willingness to hold ground, deny Chinese any further ingress and occupy features which give it an advantage are adding to Chinese woes. Chinese attempts to push forth, even while talks were progressing displays their desperation to save face.
Force levels are evenly matched, thus making an offensive option unlikely for China. The Chinese intention of gaining territory without firing a bullet is now history. If it attempts to push forward, then it would be compelled to escalate, success is still not assured. Time would soon be at a premium. Water levels are now receding in rivers in Eastern Ladakh and this suits movement of forces. Favourable campaigning season will continue till mid Nov. This is the scenario which India exploited.
The Chinese have violated the LAC and refused to accept its status. India took a similar view when it occupied vacant dominating heights. Talks are currently meaningless unless China displays positive intent to pull back. Every attempt at intrusion must be countered by force, physical clashes, if they occur, should be acceptable.
In other regions of the LAC, India should also enhance force levels, not only to deter but also to respond actively against any Chinese attempts. It should aim to convey that India has the capability to counter China and it will. It is unwilling to bow to superior Chinese technology and would hold its ground.
India must continue decoupling the economy, blocking Chinese investment, boosting own software and hardware industry and restricting Chinese from visiting India. These are actions which India has commenced and must be implemented in full measure. There should be no turning back, even if talks commence. India has been forced to look inwards for its basic products and this should become a national push.
India must activate its diplomacy and get deeper into the QUAD plus, seeking to enhance pressure on China. The QUAD plus, involving Vietnam, would be a stronger message than just the QUAD.
While any coalition which India would seek, would never be involved along the LAC, pressure on China in the Indo-Pacific and South China Sea could be enhanced, blocking the PLA navy, opening doors for India to dominate Chinese shipping. The message of India discarding the One China policy has already been conveyed by employing the Vikas battalion. It must now be made official.
Chinese offensive actions have impacted them more than India. It has woken within India a strong sense of nationalism, pushing any normalization of relations with China, on their terms and conditions, away. Militarily, the lessons which India sought to convey to China, but avoided thus far, has been done.
The Indian forces have displayed their capability and determination to push back the PLA and thwart their plans.
Economically, the action of blocking cheap Chinese products, which impacted balance of payments and flooded the Indian market, have hit China hard. India software developers could never compete with China due to price variations would now get a God given opportunity. There has been a spurt in software development.
Strategically, the Indian government always took actions to avoid inciting the dragon. This myth has finally been broken. Governments over decades ignored national security, reducing defence budgets, assuming no war with China. This will never happen. Hopefully, national security would undergo another revamp and changes pending since the Kargil crisis. Intelligence and assessment shortcomings would be addressed, and remedial actions undertaken.
Finally, talks at every level must insist on resolution of the border, rather than only on de-escalation, disengagement and withdrawal. Continuing with an un-demarcated LAC, even after this crisis is meaningless. China has woken the sleeping elephant. It has begun rumbling forward pushing back the dragon. It should not stop. This opportunity may not come again for decades. India should exploit it to the hilt, prepared for any Chinese counteraction.