In the most serious escalation between India and China in 53 years, 20+ Indian soldiers were killed in a face-off with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh on Monday night. News agency ANI claimed that Indian Army sources had confirmed 43 Chinese soldiers have been killed or seriously injured, though the army’s statement did not refer to this. A statement in the morning that confirmed the death of an Indian Army Colonel and two jawans spoke of casualties on both sides.
The only admission of casualties on the Chinese side came from the editor of their government mouthpiece Global Times. “Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash,” tweeted Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Times.
China has been upset about the Indian construction of roads and air strips in the area, say diplomats. The Indian government has pushed for improving connectivity and by 66 key roads along the Chinese border are to be built by 2022. One of these, inaugurated in October 2019, is near the Galwan Valley that connects to Daulat Beg Oldi air base.
India blamed the clashes on “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”, rebutting China’s claims that Indian soldiers crossed the border. Beijing, in an aggressive statement, accused India of crossing the border, “attacking Chinese personnel”. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quoted by Reuters as saying India should not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble. “India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). We expect the same of the Chinese side,” said Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava.
The soldiers were not shot but were killed in a physical fight on Indian territory that involved stones and batons, said the army. “There was no firing. No firearms were used. It was violent hand-to-hand scuffles”, an unnamed officer was quoted by news agency AFP as saying. The clash took place just as Chinese troops were getting ready to move away from a location per an agreement that was part of recent talks between the two sides to defuse tension. The Colonel was reportedly assaulted with stones and Indian soldiers retaliated, which led to close unarmed combat for several hours.
For over 6 weeks, soldiers from both sides have been engaged in a stand-off on at least two locations along the LAC —the 3,488 km de-facto boundary between India and China.
The Galwan river is to the west of China’s 1956 claim line in Aksai Chin ( a region illegally captured by China from India in the 1950s). In 1960, China advanced its claim line to the west of the river along the mountain ridge adjoining the Shyok river valley. Meanwhile, India continued to claim the entire Aksai Chin plateau. These claims and counterclaims led to a military standoff in the Galwan Valley in 1962. On July 4, a platoon of Indian Gorkha troops set up a post in the upper reaches of the valley. The post ended up cutting the lines of communication to a Chinese post at Samzungling. The Chinese interpreted it as a premeditated attack on their post, and surrounded the Indian post, coming within 100 yards of the post. The Indian government warned China of grave consequences and informed them that India was determined to hold the post at all costs. The post remained surrounded for 4 months and was supplied by helicopters. By the time the Sino-Indian War started on October 20, 1962, the Indian post had been reinforced by a company of troops. The Chinese PLA bombarded it with heavy shelling and employed a battalion to attack the post. The Sino-Indian War of 1962 resulted in 722 Chinese casualties and 1,383 to 3,000 Indian casualties. By the end of the war, China reached its 1960 claim line.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met with Home Minister Amit Shah. India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met twice with Indian military chiefs as India discussed a response to the escalation.
What good will this do? Surely, India cannot do surgical ground or air strikes on China like it did on Pakistan in 2016 and 2019. And most definitely, India can absolutely not afford a full-scale military war with China.
Apart from the home and defence ministers, PM Modi should have more importantly met with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. Because, what we need to do is to impose multiple trade sanctions on China, just like American President Donald Trump has done.
India should also stop all Chinese investments into India. Chinese investors have made huge inroads in the Indian tech space in the last few years. More than US$700 million has been invested by Chinese investors into Snapdeal, over $500 million each into Ola, Swiggy, and Paytm, over $300 million into Flipkart, over $250 million into BigBasket, over $200 million into Zomato, over $150 million each into Dream11, Hike Messenger, and MakeMyTrip, over $100 million each into Oyo Rooms, Gaana, MXPlayer and Udaan, over $50 million into Byju’s, amongst many other investments into companies like Policy Bazaar, Quikr, Delhivery, Rivigo, Dailyhunt, Practo, Xpressbees, . Chinese investors have invested in 92 Indian startups.
Apart from direct investments, several indirect investments have been made by funds from Singapore, Hong Kong, Mauritius, and elsewhere, where a Chinese company is the ultimate owner but the Indian Government does not treat the investment as Chinese.
All of this does not include Chinese investments into infrastructure, automobile, pharma, fintech, e-commerce, media, social media, logistics and other sectors, such as the $1100 million acquisition of Gland Pharma by China’s Fosun, the $300 million investment by MG Motors (I’m sure you thought it is a British company) and the $250 million by Chinese-owned Volvo (and you were thinking this is a Swedish company).
Most Indian startup founders have been selfish in accepting Chinese investments and not bothering about the Indo-China geopolitics. Other large foreign investors like USA, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Canada, UAE, South Africa and Israel are less likely to have a war with India than the fierce dragon on our Northern border.
I remember — when I was advising Mukesh Ambani and the Reliance board on how to enter the retail business back in 2005 — he had told me he wants to be bigger than WalMart (the world’s largest retailer), but only saw Chinese companies as long-term competitors, given the size of the Indian and Chinese population.
Then there are Chinese companies winning huge contracts to build infrastructure in India. Just 5 days back, Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co. (STEC) bagged a ₹1126 crore contract to build a 5.6 km underground section of the Delhi Metro. This is just one amongst several such contracts for metro lines, roads and other infrastructure. Until 2014, the net Chinese investment in India was US$1.6 billion, mostly by state-owned (government-owned) Chinese companies. In the next 3 years, investment increased five-fold to at least $8 billion, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing, with a noticeable shift to the Chinese private sector. When announced projects and planned investments are included, the total current and planned investment crosses at least $26 billion (almost ₹2 lakh crores).
Chinese video app Tik Tok has over 225 million subscribers in India, more than YouTube. Other apps like UC Browser, SHAREit, Like, Vigo Video and Helo are also very popular in India. Alibaba, Tencent and ByteDance rival the penetration of Amazon, Facebook and Google. The Zoom meetings app has become hugely popular during the Covid-19 crisis. Chinese smartphones like Oppo and Xiaomi have over 65% market share in India. Huawei routers have made big inroads.
Yes, China is embedded in Indian society, our economy, and the technology ecosystem that supports everything. INDIA MUST STOP THIS COMPLETELY or at least cut it down by 60-75%.
The Prime Minister should have also met with Foreign Minister Dr S. Jaishankar. This is because India needs to play a pivotal role in forming an ANTI-CHINA GLOBAL ALLIANCE that includes USA, Japan, Russia, Germany, UK, France, Spain, Canada, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Vietnam and Tibet — which has 4 basic purposes: (1) Economic blockage of Chinese products and services; (2) No further investments into China; (3) Independence for Hong Kong and Tibet; and (4) Getting China to recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan.
President Trump has already give a hint that we wishes to invite Australia, India, Russia and South Korea to the meeting of leaders of G7 (USA, UK, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Canada), the only such global leaders’ alliance that does not include China.
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Emperor Franz Josef I of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were the cause of World War II, Adolf Hitler was the cause of World War II, the “sane” world must unite to stop Xi Jinping from starting World War III, if he has not started it already with the Covid-19 pandemic. And it is better for WWIII to be an economic war rather than a military war.