Dear RamaY, Sir;
Yes, I can readily admit that it started
as a joke in my mind: QUESTION: How do you keep the PLA from crossing the LAC into India? ANSWER: Provide uncensored internet access on the Indian side!
(Tee! Hee! Hee!)
But in every joke, there is a kernel of truth. That kernel of truth is what makes it funny (to me, anyway), and in this particular instance, it got me thinking…
But before I elaborate, consider a serious question: What would a (former) West German soldier do if a (former) East German soldier tried to cross into (the former) West Berlin? What would a South Korean soldier do if he saw a North Korean soldier trying to cross the DMZ, with his rifle butt up in the air? I think in both cases, the West/South soldier would try to help the East/North soldier to defect. Not only is it the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, but the defecting soldier may actually have some valuable information to share, perhaps of military consequence, or a message from a dissident group.
The very serious question that these scenarios raise is: What would an Indian soldier do if a Chinese soldier was trying to cross the LAC into India, with his rifle butt up in the air? Seriously, I’d like to know. I don’t think this is a joking matter, because we all know that Chinese people face some extreme oppression in their own country, and it is not inconceivable (to me, anyway), that one or a group of Chinese soldiers might seek refuge and asylum in India. I would argue that it behoves India to help them to defect, for the sake of the disaffected Chinese soldiers, and also for the potential intelligence gain. What do you think?
With regards to my earlier post concerning the actual limits of India’s NFU doctrine: I don’t think anyone would consider the use of even a tiny
tactical nuclear weapon if a dozen-man PLA patrol armed with spray paint came across the LAC on a graffiti mission. That would be ridiculous in the extreme, obscene sense – and a very, very bad joke indeed. Now, if X-thousand PLA troopers came across the LAC along with Y-hundred tanks and Z-hundred APCs – that would be a different matter, entirely, and not a joke at all
. But, I don’t want to get into all of that in this post. What I’d like to do is stick with the topic of jokes, while we’re on the subject.
If you ask me, my jokes above, and any jokes we might make about using a (nuclear) cannon to kill a (PLA) fly – these are not the first jokes tossed across the LAC.
Before I elaborate, consider the words of Mao Zedong; “When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.” This one line quote encapsulates so much of the Chinese military doctrine that it is worthy of much study, especially by Indian thinkers, particularly anyone participating in this thread. Hypothetically assuming for a moment, that the decision to send a patrol of a dozen PLA soldiers across the LAC to spray paint Indian boulders was taken at the highest levels
– this can only be termed as harassment
. We must consider what the objective of this harassment was – rather than simply feel harassed out of a reflex.
If I were to guess (and also assume this graffiti raid was a genuine tactical decision taken at the highest levels); I would guess that the Chinese leadership believes getting Indians to bolster their defences would drain budgets from civilian development objectives – particularly if India has to spend money on foreign equipment to do so. (Providing yet another strong case for indiginization of military procurement.) Another (more likely) guess would be that the Chinese leadership probably hoped for some kind of political effect in India – perhaps embarrassing the sitting government – because they would prefer to see the opposition take power. Personally, I would be very interested to hear the opinions of Indians on these prospects. (In particular, I would like to see a time-series analysis revealing what continued incursions may say about factionalism in China -- with incursion incidents set along a timeline of coincidental Indo-Sino political developments, governmental remarks, large business deals and currency and securities trades, etc.).
Practically speaking – for the life of me – I cannot for one moment imagine a high-level consensus decision by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, resulting in a dozen-man incursion intent on graffiti! That in itself is a joke!
I don’t think the CCCPC can even conceive of any number less than a hundred! My best guess is that some uppity PLA captain thought he would score some 'red-star' points by pulling a stunt like spray painting Indian boulders. He probably didn’t even do it himself, but instead, he dispatched one squad of his eager-to-please minions to undertake the incursion and vandalism. I guess; that was his joke on all of us.
The even bigger joke was the whole hue and cry put up by the Indian media! This stoked the Indian public’s ire, and the GoI was thus motivated to raise two new mountain divisions, reopen a number of disused airfields and deploy Sukhois to them, along with radars, AAMs, and soon, coverage by M777s and other arty systems (not to mention purchase of miltransport aircraft, balloon-mounted radar arrays, satellite surveys, high-altitude helicopters, et cetera, et cetera). The joke, ended up being on them, I guess.
Or perhaps, the joke is on India, because the Chinese aren’t so stupid as to send columns of armour through narrow mountain valleys, and over treacherous mountain passes. (Remember all those 'Milan' ATGMs India bought? When fired from heights, they naturally become top-attack munitions, and the NAG ATGM is top-attack by default, so the Chinese aren’t likely to push through the mountainous LAC with armour, especially when you can stop the whole column by knocking-out the first dozen tanks, or with a well-placed rock slide.) I know the whole Sino-Indo border isn't mountainous; and perhaps this gives a further clue as to the Chinese intentions/plans -- but I don't know and wouldn't guess about that here and now.
In the final summation, the joke is probably back on China though; because they have built their (*paper*
) wealth and socio-political stability on the maintenance and growth of an export-oriented economy. With the US economy on the decline and with credit markets likely never to rebound to where they were pre-2008 crash; the only import market in the whole world large enough, and fast growing enough to support Chinese exporters is India
– and Indians have a very long memory (unlike Americans, who tend to buy on price alone -- politics and human rights be damned). I know that many Indians would sooner do-without, than they would ever consider buying a Chinese-made product, even if it was their only choice. Sure, the Chinese may win some shelf space from Indian retailers, as a trade relations concession, but I know many Indians who have put that item back on the shelf when they read the label that says ‘Made in China’. Silly stunts like spray painting Indian boulders will certainly have a very negative effect on Chinese trade prospects in India
(where you will find one quarter of all the *gold* ever to have been mined
Incidents like PLA incursions across the LAC (or China’s continued support for the murderous TSP), will in the final summation; serve to constrain Chinese economic prospects, curtailing the ambitions of the Chinese state, perhaps leading to what they call ‘social disharmony’, threatening the very survival of the Communist Party of China.That’s no joke.