India and China are two Asian giants set to change the very nature of world politics. The US's dwindling influence over the United Nations and world matters, their domestic compulsions with the Trump administration, and the rise of Russia has meant the Asian giants are poised to take over this part of the world. Added to this heady mixture is the COVID-19 situation and its effect on the world and domestic economies. In these difficult times, the least that both countries want is a war or even a skirmish.
But the question is -- why has this situation developed? What has led to things spiralling out of control? And the answer is not simple. To understand, we need to go back what China has been doing with its neighbours year on year, especially with India. During summers they would come strolling into the Indian territory to stake claim, put some posters and withdraw during winters. This time around, they did not plan that. They came to stay -- the reason could have been because our infrastructure development in border areas is in consonance with theirs. While this should not have spooked them, it did. This time around, they did not expect a strong response from the Indian side, but received one, which took them by surprise.
The Western Theatre Command of the PLA is a new one. It formed as result of the merger of three military regions with a unified commander sitting elsewhere and wanting to show his relevance and military genius to Xi Jinping. This commander knows his time is limited and if he aspired to make his mark with the higher leadership, the only way would be to invent a skirmish and display his military acumen. The question is of the timing and area that he chose to fight.
DBO (Daulat Baig Oldie), Chusul and Spanggur side of Tibet has three major problems. It does not have air bases to support ground operations, it is at extremely high altitude, and the logistics supply line is extremely stretched. This is not the ground any military mind would want to go at war with its enemy. The fact that China has done it is because it thought it will be able to teach India a lesson. They were far from reality and the commander chose a wrong battlefield, timing and enemy.
Will China pay a price in its war with India? Most certainly, it would have lost the war with a smaller neighbour, that too badly and may end up with its destruction as the world knows it and make a dent on the country’s economic status.
Diplomacy will not fail and they will prevail over both premiers and remind Xi that, not long ago, he swayed on a swing with PM Narendra Modi and in him there is a friend he could use to get out of this situation cleanly, without probably having to lower his grip on the country.
(Disclaimer: The author is a former Indian Air Force fighter pilot. Views expressed are personal.)