India and China have been at constant loggerheads for quite some time now. Though the border dispute between two nations has been there for many decades, both have fought a full-scale war and there have been many bloodied skirmishes in recent decades. The most violent encounter in decades between the Chinese and Indian armies happened last year at Galwan, when both the Armies were fought hard after a huge period of no exchange of gunfire.
Galwan valley clash changed the equation of the game once for all. It was Chinese PLA which initiated the conflict and attacked on Indian troops with wielding fence posts and clubs wrapped in barbed wire. Indian Army retorted back and 16 Bihar and Ghatak Platoon gave PLA a taste of their medicine when they squared off under a moonlit sky along jagged cliffs soaring high above the Galwan Valley, fighting for hours in pitched hand-to-hand battles.
Several soldiers died after tumbling into the river in the valley below, other were beaten to death. India lost 20 soldiers in this brutal hand-to-hand combat, whereas China never disclosed their loss until recently, where they paid homage to their 4 soldiers, who were supposedly killed buy Indian forces. However, several independent sources claimed that China has lost more than 40 soldiers on that fateful night.
Both nations were on the brink of War
At one time, both nations were on the brink of a probable war. However, good sense prevailed and now the disengagement process on both banks of the Pangong Lake has been completed, after several rounds of talks between the Army commanders of both the nations. India and China are now discussing disengagement in Depsang, Hot Springs, and Gogra as well.
However, at one point in time, there was a risk of escalation, and devastating outcomes were expected given both sides are established nuclear powers. This massive military standoff is mirrored by the complementing political and economic tensions between both nations. However, we were so sure about the very first day that it won’t be escalated much, and we know there were few reasons, why China will never dare to attack India.
Reason 1 – Chinese Economy can’t afford a war
Since COVID struck, the overall market sentiment has been very negative and since more debt cannot be added, the growth rate has started crumbling. The recent growth rate has been declined drastically and this has created massive panic among the internal and external investors. Apart from that, the demand from the USA has been declining, which is pinching China like anything. USA is raising the interest rates and this is putting an extremely negative outlook on the demand, as a result Chinese exports are also suffering.
China is known for infrastructure development, but at the same time the Chinese govt is lent out to developers who have built ghost towns, and this massive money is unlikely to be recovered. Thus the Chinese banking system is under a massive pressure as these NPA’s are souring, and the cascading effect of this can be seen on the Chinese stock market as well. Under such a scenario it is impossible for China to initiate a war.
Reason 2 – Indian Army’s prowess in mountains
China has not fought any full-fledged war in the last many decades, also its army hasn’t fought any war in the Himalayan mountains yet. Whereas, the Indian Army has a huge advantage on this front, as they have active experience in war and mountain warfare. Indian Army has extensive experience of war in sub-zero temperatures as they stationed at Siachen glacier for more than 35 years now.
Chinese were shaken when Indian Army captured the indomitable heights of Kailash range on 29th-30th August. Chinese Army was shell shocked with this sudden action of Indian Army and since then they loose any sort of advantage in this terrain, as heights were under Indian control. Indian Army also gave a shock of the lifetime to PLA by orchestrating a mirror deployment in couple of days.
Reason 3 – India’s Economic backlash
Indian Government has done something unprecedented when they banned more than 200 Chinese mobile applications in India. These applications were removed from Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued the order for blocking the access of these apps by users in India based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, and they raised concerns over the impact on India’s security and integrity. India’s ban has put severe pressure on China and it impacted the trade imbalance between both the nations. Trade has been is a major strength of China’s economy, and India’s ban of these apps is a major move to hit their economy, and this has caused the loss of several billion USD to the Chinese app makers.
Reason 4 – Formation of Quad
To contain the rise of China, four prominent democracies –India, Australia, Japan, and the USA has formed a quadrilateral security dialogue or QUAD. The then USA president Trump was instrumental in making the QUAD a strong force in the south-eastern Asian theater. The USA moved in all directions to make allies to contain China’s rise and in recent years all four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
This development has gave a massive shock to China, as QUAD is unofficially providing support to Taiwan and Vietnam as well. USA’s provocative positioning of its battle carrier in south China sea, and Quad’s joint naval exercise has given the right signals to Chinese establishment, that any misadventure will be met with an appropriate response.
Reason 5 – India’s Covid Diplomacy
Since Covid struck, China has been on receiving end from all quarters for its lapses to contain the Covid virus, and past that it got a bad name by supplying below par clinical items, masks, and other items. On the other hand, India is making tens of thousands of free Covid-19 shots available to several developing and poor countries left behind by rich nations in the race to procure vaccines.
The Indian-made shots offer poorer countries an alternative to Chinese vaccines, which Beijing has been pushing across the region. India’s Foreign Ministry coined Mission “Vaccine Friendship”, which has a prime objective of supplying the vaccines to more than 100 countries. Indian Government has already sent an initial consignment of vaccines to 49 countries, that contains 22.9 million doses, most of them free of cost.
This program has given a lot of goodwill to Indian Government for such a humane gesture, and it is going to give a positive impact in long run. China has assessed it and found that any misadventure against India may attract an unequivocal criticism from all quarters.
In the end, we would like to say that China’s sudden retraction is nothing but a face-saving exercise. Though this entire exercise has exposed the internal tussle between the Chinese Government and its Army, Chinese people are also slamming their Government on the issue of the death of Chinese soldiers and to pacify their own people, China may commit another misadventure in the future. But this time, India is waiting for that moment, and the reaction could be catastrophic.