A prominent Chinese military blog has said the chances of war between China and India have 'greatly increased' and offered the logic behind the Chinese war build-up. In its essence, the post reveals why China has gone on the offensive in recent years. It's none other than the fact that India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken bold measures to protect the country's borders.
"The major changes in India's strategic psychology should arouse our attention. In the future, the chances of a big conflict or even a partial war breaking out on the Sino-Indian border will not be smaller but rather greatly increased," said the article in Xilu.com, a main source of Chinese military news.
The author says that under Modi, India emerged from a 'negative attitude' and started taking border infrastructure projects more seriously. It says India had reasons to remain inactive on its borders previously. "The reason why the Indians did not dare to [build] road in the past was [the] fear that "after the Chinese have broken through the line of defense of the Indian army, they will make use of the repaired border roads of Indians and break into India more rapidly."
It appears right that Indian road projects on the China border had been languishing for a while. As many as 75 important roads in the key sectors of Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh were scheduled to be completed by 2012. But the strategically crucial road links never got the attention they deserved until the months-long stand-off with China in the tri-junction region of Doklam happened last year. The Doklam crisis sent shock waves in New Delhi, leading to the decision to fast-track road construction. These roads are now set to be completed by 2022, which the Army says is too far away for its comfort.
"While China has been seriously concentrating on developing the infrastructure around the border areas and moving at a blistering pace in constructing roads and bridges, India is moving at a snail's pace. The Army has been asking the government to build infrastructure within 50 km of the Line of Actual Control but it has taken ages to complete this task," the Business Line quoted a senior official as saying, in an article in August last year.
The post also notes that the fact that Indian Army came through the Doklam crisis without receiving any 'military punishment', along with the new Indian belief that 'India's economy can be comparable to China, Mumbai can surpass Shanghai' led to the transformation of India's defensive posturing into an offensive line. "Therefore, in the future, the Indian Army will adopt a "forward strategy" that is likely to hit China's borders as never before," the post says.
The article then goes on to explain how the Chinese can still make the Indian army "throw their helmets out of their shame! That's by reinforcing China's air warfare superiority. China has Indian capital and major army command centers in a 500-km range from its air force bases. "In the future, India will have to worry that its northern military and political core and civilian facilities [can be] hit by my air force. Our major economic and military targets are outside the combat scope of the Indian Air Force. The air situation in both sides is equally beneficial to us."
While India does its best on the border and beef up its infrastructure in key areas, Chinese airpower can still win the war, the article avers. "If we again suppress India's infrastructure in the sky, even if the Indians launch another border conflict, they will only once again throw their helmets out of their shame!"
On Monday, China Military Online, the official website of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), said China operationalized its J-20 Chengdu stealth aircraft with urgency, after taking into account the threat from the US. Japan and India.
India's plan to join the F-35 club would be difficult as the pitch was for joint development under the stipulations of the 2016 Indian Defense Procurement Procedure.
The development of China's secret weapon J-20 was remarkably fast, going by military standards. China aims to mount long-range air-to-air missile on the stealth fighter, and if this becomes successful it will definitely have one leg up on the US in the Asia Pacific theatre. "In the past, only the US and its allies like Japan were capable of arming stealth fighter jets. But now, their monopoly in this region has been broken by China's J-20," the PLA website said.
The J-20 with a 2,000 km-plus speed per hour will be a potent weapon for the Chinese air force as it can destroy the enemy's refueling tankers, reconnaissance aircraft and airborne command posts.
However, it was reported recently that India, on its part, is in talks to buy the fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter from the US. The reports said India requested classified information from US arms maker Lockheed Martin about the capabilities of the fifth-generation stealth F-35A aircraft. But India's plan to join the F-35 club would be difficult as the pitch was for joint development under the stipulations of the 2016 Indian Defense Procurement Procedure.
"The bottom line is that it is unlikely that India will procure the F-35A in the near future as neither Lockheed Martin nor the U.S. government currently have any incentives for a sale of one of its most advanced fighter jets to India, despite the country recently being designated a Major Defense Partner," the Diplomat reported.
It's possible that the conflict between China and India will extend beyond land to the sea ... China should also be prepared for a military response at the same time to any unreasonable provocation
China has also raised its hackles over India's maritime drills and other military alliances. China says that India is 'busy' building a network of allies around the disputed South China Sea. This has led to substantive pre-emptive action that has resulted in key Chinese presence in Sri Lanka and Maldives.
"The India-led 2018 Milan exercise will have a larger scale than ever. India is provoking China, which will not benefit the development of Sino-Indian relations," Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times quoted a military expert as saying.
"Now it's possible that the conflict between China and India will extend beyond land to the sea ... China should also be prepared for a military response at the same time to any unreasonable provocation."
The war-mongering is par for the course. But India will have to take a more serious approach to its defense plans – strategy, budget, procurement and alliances.