China’s Diabolic Plans and India’s response.
Chinese foreign policy and strategic thinking has for years have been irredentist. Its territorial claims on remote historical grounds have little place in modern international relations and the necessity to build a world free from wars and tensions. Yet these claims are alive and seriously affect India, Vietnam and erstwhile Soviet Union. The militant and narrow nationalism that has dominated the thinking of large sections of the Chinese leadership, has worsened due to China’s following moves :
(a) Open aid to the rebellion in Afghanistan and Kampuchea.
(b) Reluctance to back Sihanouk-Hun Sen talks.
(c) Active support to the military regimes in Islamabad and Bangkok for narrow strategic gains.
(d) Attack on Vietnam and it’s active involvement with Pol Pot’s social experiments.
(e) Encouragement to the Thai military regime to be its proxy in Indochina.
(f) Reckless sale of arms in international arms market, to feed the war torn regions in the world.
Considering such gaping misadventures from the Chinese side, it is only prudent that the bigger power tows the line of collective security arrangement (as under Helsinki agreement).
It is hoped that China in its own interest and in the interest of peace in Asia would come round to this view and refrain from a unilateral military based search for security and strategic superiority.
Sino-Indian relations :-
India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.
— Hu Shih (Consolation of Mind)
Sino-Indian relations date back to the so called “OPIUM AGE” of china. Silk route was in extensive use for mutual trade & cultural exchange even before those times. The relations were healthy then and opined with mutual respect and benefit.
The modern relationship began in 1950 when India was among the first countries to end formal ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and recognize the PRC as the legitimate government of Mainland China. Militant nationalism coupled with the internationalism of Marxis-Leninist views (Ultra Leftism) was good enough a reason for PRC to grab the whole of Tibet.
Thus the expeditionary moves of Dragon began to create rift between the Sino-india relations. Panchsheel & Bandung were brief interludes in this counter – current.
Post 1960 the cultural Revolution and the Xenophobia o enhanced hostilities put a freeze on relations. That was the phase of delinking in sino-india relations and warming of Pakistan and Western nations.
Since then the relations between contemporary China and India have been characterized by border disputes, resulting in three military conflicts :-
(a) Sino-Indian War of 1962.
(b) Chola incident in 1967.
(c) 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish.
(d) 2017, the two countries clashed at the Doklam plateau along the disputed Sino-Bhutanese border.
Real-politick Crisis :-
Despite growing economic and strategic ties, there are several hurdles for India and the PRC to overcome. India faces trade imbalance heavily in favour of China. The two countries failed to resolve their border dispute and Indian media outlets have repeatedly reported Chinese military incursions into Indian territory.
There has been frequent Infringement on India’s sovereignty by pick poking in the narrative of South Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) and parts of Ladakh (Aksai Chin is part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). Total summed area would be 7500 sq. Km (approx). These are a part of the greater Salami slicing strategy employed by our expansionist neighbor hood .
Both countries have steadily established military infrastructure along border areas. Additionally, India remains wary about China's strong strategic bilateral relations with Pakistan. while China has expressed concerns about Indian military and economic activities in the dispute due to South China Sea.
Impact on India :-
China looms large in the minds of India’s planners – owing to its large military budget, its modernisation plans and the aggressive posturing in the South China Sea.
To begin with, there are four outlines that will shape India-China conflict:-
(a) Territorial defence postures of both countries-
India maintains its large body of troops relatively close to the border while China stations a limited number in its interior in Tibet.
(b) Climate and the difficult terrain –
Areas along the Indian side are not amenable to mechanised warfare, except certain parts of Ladakh and Sikkim.” The high elevation of Tibet gives China some “commanding advantages” for surveillance, artillery operations and acclimatisation of troops to high altitudes. High altitude and extreme cold affect “almost every element of military equipment”; they complicate air campaigns and battle plans.
(c) Infrastructure disparity between the two sides –
The People’s Liberation Army has rapid access to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) thanks to the terrain and highways and high-speed railway networks it has built. whereas Indian troops “often have to trek several hours, if not days, to attain certain areas.”
(d) Different command structures on both sides –
India has several regional army and air force commands, whereas China has one unified western theatre command.
(e) Cyber war –
This fourth arm of war is most critical in coming days. Its highly probable that the next war will be a full conventional one and will be accompanied/ preceded by a shadow Cyber war. We need to deal this separately in the later part of our discussions as it needs multitude of factors to be roped in.
Above will have a bearing on the kind of war we need to prepare for. The emphasis has to be on :
(a) Trans-theater mobility.
(b) Rapid massing of strength.
(c) Gaining initiative from striking first.
(d) Fighting a quick battle to force a quick solution.
In the event of a conflict with India, conventional forces will be rushed in from the interior and these will be accompanied by air, electronic and cyber operations. The PLA’s air force (PLAAF) and artillery will conduct “standoff strikes” to disrupt and delay the arrival of Indian forces coming from the lowlands. PLA’s Special Operations Forces (SOFs) will be deployed to attack vital targets to create favorable conditions for main force units.
Rapid development of China’s airborne assault capabilities via the PLAAF’s 15th Airborne Corps, numbering over 35,000 troops and headquartered at Xiaogan, from where it is expected to reach any part of China within ten hours.
India’s strategy :-
It is thus clear that security of India faces certain serious challenges. Considering the same our preparations needs to be multifaceted garnered with matured Diplomatic and Military strategy. The same has to be SMART (Simple/Measureable/Actionable/Review/Time based).
(a) Military strategy –
- India has been building on its advantage in conventional troops numbers augmenting its force structure with new battalions of scouts, adding air, missile and surveillance assets,
- Raising a new Mountain Strike Corps.
- Improving its road and rail infrastructure in the border regions.
- Strategy of horizontal escalation and capture territory elsewhere(in case of china seizing Indian territory. In line with this, Ladakh and northern Sikkim are good locations for a mechanised riposte where India’s forces would “sweep down from…mountain plains to conduct pincer movements behind Chinese formations, with the hope of breaking troop concentration.” India’s air and missile power would aid these mechanised incursions into Tibet, as part of a wider theatre strategy.
- set up a naval blockade and essentially strangle Beijing’s economy. China would have to sortie the People’s Liberation Army Navy into the Indian Ocean to break the blockade.
The above is the best way for adoption of a much more vigorous, tactically offensive approach to territorial defence.
Limitations of our Military strategy -
India’s approach to conventional deterrence has certain limitations. While we have moved toward adopting a more-offensive form of area denial, the same is overtly dependent on conventional forces that could be overcome or circumvented in the event of a fast-moving, localised, and limited border confrontation launched from higher elevations.” This leads to several problems. India is reliant on dispersed, poorly equipped paramilitary forces like the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) as “its first line of defence, in many of the forward areas most vulnerable to Chinese aggression.” The nature of the topography is such that conventional troops, which are substantially stationed in lower altitudes, are “relatively static” – moving them from lowlands is challenging, and while they wind up mountain roads and valleys during conflict they are vulnerable to artillery, missile or air strikes.
These weaknesses can be addressed by :-
(a) Complementarity between conventional forces and Special Operations Forces that can “play a critical role behind enemy lines, conducting sabotage, reconnaissance, and direct-action operations.”
(b) SOF’s can be used to strike airbases, reconnaissance assets and disrupt build-up of PLA forces. SOFs are also useful to counter “gray zone aggression”.
(c) Road and rail projects in border areas needs to be sped up. “As of May 2016, only twenty-one of sixty-one border road projects designated strategic had been completed.” Twenty eight strategic railway lines were sanctioned in 2010, “six years later none have been finalized.”
(d) Chronic shortfalls in essential equipment needs to be addressed - including parachutes, night vision devices, high-altitude clothing and even aluminium, belt-attachable water bottles.
It would be wise for India to keep a tab on the latest Chinese doctrine of war. The same has spread to engulf IT/cyber/space paradigms. Few of the latest arsenals that china has developed include :
- WU-14 Hypersonic Weapon system - India should rightly fear Chinese hypersonic weapons because they are extremely fast and difficult to shoot down. A hypersonic weapon launched from Xinjiang, western China and traveling at Mach 7 could reach Bangalore in twenty minutes, and Delhi in less than ten.
- Future Chinese Carrier - While China already has one carrier as part of its naval arsenal, the rebuilt Liaoning, this could be just the start of things to come. Reports have it that they are into building a carrier force. The construction of a future Chinese carrier fleet opens up the possibility of a direct confrontation with India’s carrier fleet, in the first carrier vs. carrier battle since the Second World War.
- Second Artillery Corps – armed with short and medium range Ballistic missiles, it can hit entire of India with accuracy of 100 mtrs, terminally guiding them from a road in Tibet. Currently we do not have a Missile defence shield in place (though work is on for the Israel SS400).
- DH-10 Cruise Missile - Dong Hai-10, or “East Sea 10” cruise missile family represents a breakthrough in Chinese cruise missile technology. India should fear the DH-10--particularly the ground-launched version--because it provides China with a standoff conventional precision attack capability. India’s only defense would be to shoot incoming DH-10s down.
- Chengdu J-20 Fighter – Chinese FGFA currently under development, will be capable of carrying land attack missiles, which could precede a strike by the Second Artillery Corps, taking out Indian surface-to-air missile batteries, air bases, radar stations and command and control targets. J-20 will use the stealth technology to evade detection.
- Heli - born army – this will help in placing the troops at a short notice, within the entire horizontal tibetian plateau thereby being battle ready in the front even before we can start the dwell.
India’s counter would be to build its Blue Navy capabilities , considering that land based power show would end in a stalemate(both terrain and the Land army capabilities are evenly matched). Quite a good move has been taken on the same as follows (though progress is slow):
- VIkramaditya Aircraft Carrier -
China fears Vikramaditya because the carrier could lead a blockade of Chinese shipping, its aircraft increasing the Indian fleet’s radius of action. Vikramaditya could also contribute offensive air power against any Chinese fleet sortied to break the blockade.
- Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) -
India’s first fifth generation fighter, FGFA is a collaboration between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the Russian Sukhoi corporation. It will theoretically give India an aircraft in the same class as the American F-22 and Chinese J-20.
China fears the FGFA because it would directly compete with the Chinese J-20 fighter. Despite the reported problems, the FGFA’s pedigree includes the legendary Sukhoi aircraft design bureau, with more than 70 years experience in fighter design. The J-20, by contrast, is apparently a wholly indigenous design with little or no foreign expertise. If FGFA turns out to be successful, it will allow India to match advances in Chinese airpower for the foreseeable future.
- BrahMos Anti-Ship Missile -
A joint Indian-Russian project, BrahMos is a short-range supersonic cruise missile capable of being launched from land, air, and both surface and subsurface ships. Brahmos is one of the most advanced missiles in the world, capable of hitting targets on land and at sea with precision.
Brahmos represents a substantial missile threat to the People’s Liberation Army and People’s Liberation Army Navy. The missile’s high speed means that China’s unproven air defenses—both on the ground and at sea—will have mere seconds to respond to a Brahmos attack.
- Kolkata-Class Destroyer -
The Kolkata class is India’s latest guided missile destroyer design. Fast and stealthy, with an advanced sensor suite and an array of potent air, land and sea weapons, the Kolkata class would be a formidable ship in any navy.
The Kolkata will pack the heaviest surface-to-surface firepower of any destroyer in any navy, with each ship carrying 16 BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. Rounding out the ship’s armament is a 76mm gun, four AK-630 close-in weapons systems, anti-submarine rockets and torpedoes, and two embarked helicopters with a hangar.
China would fear the Kolkata class because it would provide air defense for ships such as the Vikramaditya. Armed with 16 BrahMos missiles, the Kolkatas could also operate independently as commerce raiders, threatening Chinese shipping.
- Arihant-Class Ballistic-Missile Submarine -
Although India has maintained a nuclear arsenal for decades, it has lacked a credible second-strike counter value capability. The ability to threaten enemy strategic assets and even cities, an insurance policy against surprise nuclear attack. INS Arihant (“Destroyer of Enemies”) is the first real step toward fixing that problem. India is only the sixth country in the world to develop an undersea nuclear deterrent.
INS Arihant is India’s first ballistic missile submarine, specifically designed to launch nuclear missiles. Arihant will carry twelve K-15 short-range nuclear missiles or four K-4 intermediate range nuclear missiles. K-15 missiles, with their 700-kilometer range.
Arihant is nearing sea trials. Three submarines are reportedly planned.
(e) Investment in training capacity to cope with expanded forces. Attrition levels are high, forces units have an officer shortfall of 25-30%.
(f) Addressing the challenges in organizational domain - restructuring around a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to harmonize the large number of SOFs.
(g) Address inter-service rivalry and bring about greater strategic and doctrinal clarity.
(b) Diplomatic strategy –
- China has been building up on the OBOR(One Belt one Road) initiative. The master plan is to Link mid east/central asia and Europe. The strategy is also linked with extending collateral loans to economically deprived countries and then subsequent colonization of the countries by strangulating them in a Debt trap (Hambantota port & SEZ in Sri Lanka / the Maldives Naval base) . China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a part of the same.
Indian concern stems from the fact that the entire OBOR initiative is more of a Diplomatic encirclement of India in both Land and sea.
- China’s hyphenation of India with Pakistan on the NSG membership.
- Designation of JeM chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist has been stalled by china on more than one occasions.
- Chinese veto to disallow India into the permanent UNSC membership.
Indian Counter-strategy -
India’s approach has been quite far flung now, though it needs to be more intensive :-
(h) India is working on multiple fronts to work with all major SEAC to develop a strategic partnership. This should keep at bay the Chinese plan of aggrandizement. The same is reflected in the commercial BOT of Trincomalee port & defence deals with Bangladesh. The latest MoU with Iranian Govt. to operate the Chabahar port (as an alternate to Gwadar) & Daqum Port of Oman coupled with Delaram rail network to connect the landlocked Afghanistan are laudable steps in counter circling the Chinese ambitions on land and sea.
(i) In expanding its global reach , india will have to counter china’s containment strategy by working with Japan, USA, Singapore and Australia to realize the safety of Indian Ocean. There has been scheduled naval exercises between the US and Japanese navy with India to assert the same.
The chiefs of navy of Japan, US, Australia and India sharing the stage at the recent Raisina Dialogue in Delhi comes just a couple of months after the officials from these countries met in Manila to revive the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue giving a clear indication of the military aspect of the grouping which is being called the Quad. The move indicates India’s readiness to shed its past inhibitions about the militarization of the grouping and willingness to take greater responsibility in the Indo-Pacific region. The new NATO like Asian alliance would also require a economic viability model rather than purely Military.
The Indo-Japanese Africa Asia Growth Corridor (AAGC) can be adopted by the Quad. The AAGC envisages to enhance capacity and skills, quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity, development and cooperation projects and people to people partnership. India’s own one Belt & MIEC, initiative can be connected with AAGC in order to reap financial benefit through trade & commerce (not to drop out the relative advantages derived out of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization.)
Indo-China trade is highest at $100 bn would also be a very strong deterrent for china’s aggressive moves.
(j) Other than working on the Look East policy, India has been engaging the African nations positively through the Mekong-India Economic Corridor. The same connects Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania through Indian ports shoring Arabian sea. The naval base at Seychelles is a major boost to such Indian overtures.
Latest in the basket has been the famed – Engaging Africa: 54+1 initiative, that took off in 2015.
India’s active participation in the world prosperity and her stance of being Nuclear non-proliferator coupled with it’s relations with major world powerhouses, will help her to address the issue to cross border terrorism & UNSC permanent seat.
Cyber warfare: India's Shadow battle in the virtual world :-
Aptly called the fourth pillar of warfare of our times, Cyber warfare is a subject of great criticality and hence calls for absolute & segregated view. In our modern times 50% of the war would be fought on cyber space.
India’s vulnerability to Chinese cyber attacks could be judged from the fact that a colonel rank officer from People’s Liberation Army informed that India’s cyber infrastructure to protect its stock-markets, power supply, communications, traffic lights, train and airport communications is so ‘primitive’ that can be overwhelmed by the Chinese in less than six hours. So if there is a second India-China War, India’s adversary does not need to send troops to the trenches of the Himalayas but to ask its cyber warriors to cripple India’s security infrastructure from their cool air-conditioned computer rooms.
Govt. Departments that have come under attack
Espionage/Black out following Powergrid failure/Crippling of Transport system/Hacking of banks & Stock Exchanges/Sabotage of Elections / Propaganda & Political unrest.
India’s inertia to induct cyber security as an essential element of national security and growth is tremblingly palpable. Cyber security is less debated, sporadically written about, and rumoured at best in India. Because of this apathy and despite India’s grand stature in the cyber world, India is vulnerable to the cyber snarls of China and other countries.
With its archaic governmental architecture, India is still in expansion mode with little time spared on digital security. One of the significant reasons of India’s inertia is its lack of understanding and appreciation of the gravity of cyber security. Added to that, despite being a proclaimed land of young people, India’s age-old lamentation for its youth is one of the vital stumbling blocks to adopting a strong cyber security policy. For example, the Narendra Modi-government appointed expert group ‘to prepare a roadmap on cyber security’ is comprised of aged professors and busy bureaucrats who cannot keep pace with the speed, agility and thought of modern-day hackers. China and all other countries’ cyber security, on the other hand, rest in the hands of their young cyber experts.
Terrorists who have mastered techniques used by conventional cyber security.
Hackers who commitcyber crimes for a fee. They are not motivated by any cause and are vulnerable.
Areas in cyberspace infested by Hackers to pursue illegal activities.
India is nowhere in the cyber war that has engulfed the globe. India’s response to such a critical situation is a timid National Cyber Security Policy that the government circulated in 2013. There is no national overhaul of cyber security and the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, the statutory body to look after cyber attacks, has little critical strength or capability. Its endeavour to recruit young talent and meaningfully engage them is still to take off. After the 2013 National Security Council note that exposed India’s cyber security unpreparedness, the government decided to augment infrastructure and hire more professionals. However, what is required is a strategic vision to ensure stealth in India’s cyber security and a political conviction to plug strategic vulnerabilities.
The National Technical Research Organization has regularly been alerting successive governments about the danger from Chinese cyber attacks. India cannot afford to be passive and unresponsive because if it does not not act now, by the time a sophisticated cyber-attack happens, it will probably be too late to defend against it effectively.
Agencies Focused on Cyber Offence/Defence
Roles & Responsibilities
Govt. agencies like National Technical Research Organization(under RAW), Defence Intelligence Agency.
National Security Adviser will oversee a Public-private tie up to set up a cyber security archietecture
National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection centre - Carved out of CERT-I, to protect assets in critical sectors such as Energy, transport,Banking, telecom, Defence & Space.
Centre to have a Natioanl Cyber security Policy I Place ; socail Networks to be monitored to track cyber terror
Indian Computer Emergency Response Team - Set up in 2004 as a unit of IT department. It protects non critical assets. It is a nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents.
Plan is to boost cyber security capabilities anticipating that India will increasingly come under terror attacks.
India’s immediate requirement is to understand the impending cyber security threat from China and build better network filters and early warning devices and add new firewalls around computers that run the Indian economy and regulate vital civil and military installations. But in any battle the attackers are always embedded with all advantages from choosing the battlefield to deciding the time of war to the choice of instrumentalities. Poor defenders end up defending an attack that they even cannot imagine.
Bottom line :-
India’s current challenge is to counter the mercurial rise of Chinese authority and finally contain it on all fronts. China wants it to be seen as a Global power and hence undermine Indian presence. Considering the modern world socialist view, this may not be downplayed, till the time such moves remain within the frame work of peaceful terms of advancement and not smeared with the historical expansionist mind set.
If Dragon needs to be kept at Bay our entire political structure must shrug off its stupor to think and act as one. To employ a combination of Liberal Economic and security policies, based on matured time bound planning and execution of Cold calculative strategies.
In the space of a decade, China and India have emerged as dramatic, dynamic competitors. However the real challenge would be to keep a collaborative rivalry