Is This What China Wants?
By defeating India in 1962, China established its claim lines on the Sino-Indian border as the reality. For 35 years, India adopted a strong defensive posture on the border, with no intent of attacking China to recover lost territory, or even to do more than simply throw back a Chinese offensive should that take place. In the 1990s India agreed to substantially reduce forces on its side of the border to show it considered a peaceful solution to the border issue the only way to go.
China's reaction to the winning hand it held for 35 years and the even bigger hand it managed by making complete idiots of the Indians in the 1990s - in fairness it takes little to make complete idiots of the Indians was - you've guessed it: to push the Indians harder than it has done before, with hundreds of intrusions and a massive infrastructure buildup in Tibet's remote regions including roads in areas India has controlled since before the coming of the British Raj.
We are being neither cynical, bitter, or angry when we make the above comments. China sees itself as the eventual world superpower, this attitude is written into Chinese genes, and the country cannot help itself in taking every opportunity to push its neighbors as much as it can. Peaceful coexistence to the Chinese means accepting China as the suzerain, and that mans everyone else must accept vassal status. What China is doing is absolutely natural.
But is it the right way to advance China's interests?
[*******red]Consider the following. India has already raised two mountain divisions in 2008, the very first divisions it has raised since 1984. One is clearly a strike reserve against China, the other, while it has a role against Pakistan, has been created very much with China in mind. It is a strike reserve primarily for Ladakh.[/COLOR]
[*******blue]Now Mandeep Singh Bajwa tells us that the next step in a decade-long buildup against China is being prepared.[/COLOR]
A third new division, specifically for offensive operations in Ladakh, will be raised. Mr. Bajwa naturally cannot give any details as the information is classified. India at this time has 7 regular army battalions and perhaps 2 Scouts battalions oriented to covering the Ladakh border. The existing division is to get a third brigade, additional corps artillery is to be inducted; armored battlegroups - withdrawn under the reduction agreements with China - are to be reinducted; three long-closed airfields have been reactivated, and several Scouts battalions of specialized high mountain troops for offensive operations are to be added.
In other words, not only does Indian Northern Command now have a mountain strike division that is not committed to the Pakistan front, Indian forces in Ladakh are to more than double. [*******blue]As important, nowhere in this buildup is the word "defense" mentioned[/COLOR].
Ladakh has four sectors. One faces Pakistan, and it already has five brigades. Ladakh has three sectors. Even at it the height of its 1960s buildup against China, India's offensive component was a single, limited division attack in the southern sector, intended purely to throw off a Chinese offensive.
[*******blue]But now India is building the capability to launch three simultaneous offensives, one of a brigade in the north, very high and very rugged terrain, a brigade in the center, and a full division in the south.[/COLOR]
BUT please consider this. These five brigades are the first wave of the offensive. Behind them will be five other brigades, and behind these will be at least that many more drawn partly from reserves committed primarily to Pakistan front and only secondarily to the China front.
In other words, where India before the buildup essentially had 4-5 brigades for Ladakh, it will soon have 15+, or a tripling of strength. and again, we need to emphasize, no one at Army HQ is talking about defense. These forces are being planned and will train for a straight, heavy-duty, combined air-ground offensive aimed at regaining Ladakh, and completely disrupting China's links with Sinkiang and Central Tibet.
[*******red]China meanwhile has been steadily reducing its formation and upgrading them. But you see, the upgraded Chinese formations actually still have less capability than the Indians formations of today, unit for unit, because the Indians have steadily continued upgrading their army in general.[/COLOR] And a new round of modernization/reequipment is in the works so that the capability gap will be even larger, unit for unit. India is going for mass AND quality, whereas China is going for the discredited American doctrine of quality without mass.
[*******blue]You see, India now has a trillion dollar economy and it spends just a bit over 2% of it on defense. The economy is expected to grow by 50% in the next five years - that is the reduced target given the recent distortions caused by oil and food. And India has decided it needs to going back to spending 4% of GDP on defense - all thanks to China[/COLOR]. India's defense budget looks set to triple in the period 2007-2012 - and the irony of it, people are beating up China for its defense expenditure, which - believe it or not - is actually about China says. In other words, China is NOT lying about its expenditures, sorry to disappoint everyone.
So, back to our original question. Does China really think the Indian buildup is in its interest. India did not want to undertake the buildup, it wanted to normalize relations and to demilitarize the border, and it agreed to the latter. So what exactly has China gained by not keeping its end of the deal?
Tomorrow we will talk about the political calculations China is making in the face of this massive Indian buildup, which has just begun, by the way. There are many more divisions on the way. And we will show that those political calculations, while entirely appropriate for the past, are now hopelessly outmoded