One direct consequence of Joe Biden’s rise to power has been an uptick in Chinese belligerence. Chinese President Xi Jinping rejoices how Biden has pursued the policy of complete tolerance towards Chinese aggression. China has been trying to terrorise all its neighbours, be it Japan or the island nation of Taiwan or the Philippines. The US President, however, has remained silent in face of growing Chinese aggression, and therefore Xi has now taken a big risk of provoking India.
Jinping is now pushing his luck too far by trying to act belligerently in the Eastern Ladakh region, where the Indian Army and Chinese People Liberation Army (PLA) have been locked in a standoff for almost the past one year. As per the latest Indian Express report, China has refused to pull back its troops from the friction points- Hot Springs, Gogra Post and Depsang Plains.
As per the report, a highly placed source said that the Chinese “had agreed earlier” to pull back troops from Patrolling Point 15 (PP-15) and Patrolling Point -17A (PP-17A) in Hot Springs and Gogra Post but later they refused to vacate. In the recent Corps Commander-level talks between the two militaries on April 9, China said that India “should be happy with what has been achieved”.
China’s refusal to pull back troops from the friction points, in order to restore the status quo ante, is definitely an afterthought. In fact, troops from both sides have disengaged at the more tense areas- North and South banks of Pangong Tso, as well as the Kailash range. Even at PP-15 and PP-17A, China did bring down the number of its troops from “company strength” to “platoon strength”.
However, looking at Biden administration’s incompetence and failure to react against Chinese transgressions in the entire Indo-Pacific, Xi Jinping might as well have thought that this is the perfect opportunity to go back on his word by stalling the disengagement process.
Yet, we ought to say that Xi has got carried away this time. He is riding his luck a bit too far, and in the Chinese strategic circles, there is a serious miscalculation about India’s ability to defend itself in face of sheer belligerence. India is not going to be worried about how the Biden administration is going to act. As such, Indian troops are capable of giving a bloody nose to the Chinese PLA troops, regardless of American diplomatic support or the lack of it.
India has also started preparing for all eventualities. The Army formations at the ground level have been told that the FOL (Fuel, Oil and Lubricant) dumps “all along the Shyok Valley roads, they have to be dug down”. There is also an instruction to build the necessary infrastructure, “so if tomorrow any firing starts, you can’t be caught in the open”.
So, if things escalate, India would embarrass the paper dragon all over again. Only last year, China suffered heavy casualties during a bloody face-off on June 15. Yet, Xi, who is emboldened with easy successes after Biden’s accession to power, is pushing the Chinese PLA troops into sheer danger.