India told its armed forces on Monday to prepare for war in the wake of escalating conflict with China along the Line Of Actual Control (LAC), which is the long-disputed border between India and China. In addition, the India Navy has also been given orders to deploy its assets near the Malacca Strait, and, if needed, anywhere else in the Indo-Pacific to counter the Chinese, the India Economic Times reported.
This follows a bloody conflict between the two Asian powers for the first time in 40 years with the killing of dozens of troops from India and China along the contested border of both countries in the Himalayas. The situation spurred after a failed diplomatic meeting in Galwan River valley, in the Himalayas region of Ladakh.
Economic Times further reports that not only has India’s Navy been ordered to prepare for the worst but its “Air Force assets, including fighters, too have been moved up to forward locations.”
The Times of India corroborated the Economic Times claims, stating that Indian forces are currently in a “warlike alert.” In addition, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is also seeking a go-ahead to purchase 33 fighter aircrafts from Russia, according to reports. These will include 12 Sukhoi 30 MKI and 21 Mig-19 fighter jets.
Both countries counterparts Wang Yi and Indian diplomat Subrahmanyam Jaishankar recently discussed the situation via a phone call with both coming to an agreement that the conflict needs to “cool down,” Al-Jazeera reports.
While things have thus far calmed down according to China, India is still on alert for potential war responses in case of the worst case scenario. Hindustan Times also reports that China although the country has said it doesn’t want war, has begun cyberattacks against Indian infrastructure including government information websites and financial services like ATMs.
China stated the overall situation was “stable and controllable,” between the two nations on Thursday through its Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.
“We believe that guided by the important consensus reached between the two leaders, China and India can properly deal with the current situation, jointly uphold peace and stability in the border areas, and ensure a sound and steady development of bilateral relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing.
Lijian added in the press release that the two sides are in close communication aiming to solve the problems via diplomatic and military channels without any more conflict, the spokesperson told reporters.
“As the world’s two largest developing countries and emerging economies, China and India have far more common interests than differences. The two sides should follow the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and ensure that China-India relations move in the right direction in line with the interests and expectations of both nations,” said Zhao.
However, China’s spokesperson still blamed India for the dispute stating:
“The whole thing happened because India’s frontline troops, in violation of the agreement reached at the Commander-level meeting, once again crossed the Line of Actual Control for deliberate provocation, and even violently attacked the Chinese officers and soldiers who went to the terrain for negotiation, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties,” Zhao said.
According to Hindustan Times, Indian and Chinese gathered in the Himalayas, led by major generals, met on Thursday near Patrol Point 14 in Galwan Valley as part of military commitments to de-escalate tensions on the disputed border. This was the seventh meeting between Major General Abhijit Bapat, commander of Karu-based headquarters 3 Infantry Division, and his Chinese counterpart since the stand-off began in early May, and the third after Monday night’s clash that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
The Guardian reports that China also released 10 Indian soldiers they had captured as hostages after an agreement on the release was reached at major general-level talks between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army. China also used its state-backed mouthpiece, the ‘Global Times’, to threaten India of military pressure from China, Pakistan, and even Nepal on Wednesday if the border tensions escalated.
The Global Times a Chinese state-run media outlet, quoted an individual at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Hu Zhiyong in its one-sided and biased editorial stating, “India has engaged in border disputes with China, Pakistan and Nepal at the same time. As Pakistan is a reliable strategic partner of China, and Nepal also has close ties with China, and both of them are key partners under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, if India escalates border tensions, it could face military pressure from two or even three fronts, which is far beyond India’s military capability and this might lead to a disastrous defeat for India.”
Last Sunday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army carried out military drills in high altitude conditions with tanks prior to the disturbance with India on Monday, The Diplomat reported.
NATO has responded with U.S. representative Kay Bailey Hutchison pronouncing China is being watched by the West due to its growing hostility with its neighbors like Japan and India and other territories like Taiwan. Hutchison insisted that “It’s much more on our radar screen, and I think it should be because we should assess the risk, hope for the best but prepare for the worst,”
Hutchison remarked that “So we know that China has the capability to compete on a level playing field, and we’re asking them to do that, but we’re also turning a wary eye to their behavior right now in the South China Sea, militarizing islands that they said would never be done, as well as the clampdown on Hong Kong.”
When the representative was asked if an actual military encounter was on the horizon, she replied, “I think NATO is now looking to the East.”
A spokesperson for U.S. President Donald Trump has said he has “no formal plans” to interfere between India and China.
“There are no formal plans,” White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters but said Trump is “aware” and monitoring the tumultuous situation.
Indian media reported a total of 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the brawl earlier this week, citing the toll from a military specialist, while the casualties of the Chinese side remain unknown. U.S. intelligence sources have, however, speculated that at least 35 soldiers were killed from China during the hand to hand combat dispute which saw both sides using iron rods, rocks and studded clubs.
35 dead and injured on Chinese side during clash in Galwan Valley: official sources quoting US intelligence reports
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) June 17, 2020
Meanwhile, with the conflict between China and India potentially ending, another escalation has since happened with Pakistan. When this was going to press, Pakistan accused India of “unprovoked” shelling fire in the disputed Kashmir region. Which resulted in the deaths of four civilians, the country added.
Although, there is still a heated exchange of words between the two nations blaming each other. India accused Chinese troops of deliberately preparing the attack on its soldiers claiming they erected a tent on the Indian side, dammed a river, brought in machinery and then brutally beat their soldiers. China has counted back claiming sovereignty over the Galwan valley in Ladakh, and has accused Indian troops of three times crossing into its territory. “The responsibility entirely lies with Indian side,” said Lijian, on Friday.
Indias Army also released new rules of engagement with China on the LAC, “In future, if they carry clubs, so will our soldiers. If they use rocks, so will we. Rules need to be followed equally by both sides,” an India military source told India Today.
For a timeline and detailed updates of a summary of events from the Indian side of the conflict with China see the Indian Economic Times here.
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