Towards what end sir? What is the objective that China wants to achieve with this?
a] Distract from domestic pressures on Xi?
---> From inter party rivals? To consolidate his position? Matches with belligerence in SCS, Taiwan, HK and Australia as a pattern to distract yes.
---> From Chinese public reeling from impact of Covid and economic downturn? Given the tight control over media is this pressure really felt on the leader ship? And from reports It looks like the clashes are being down played in local SM and state media.
There was some domestic pressure on CCP ( not Xi personally) due to Wuhan Virus. They tried to reduce it by sacrificing cadre in Wuhan, firing a few important officials in Hubei and crackdown on social media. Throughout Xi kept himself insulated from the situation by delegating responsibility (for failure) and took charge only once it looked like they had CV in control. Judging from SM, the Covid anger is over, also because the CCP pushed the message hard that democracies like Italy, France, USA had completely failed at handling CV. So they should be thankful for the CCP, otherwise the situation would have been much worse.
But this operation began before
No, not really
Distract from international pressures on China and Xi?
---> Pressures from USA, UK and EU on Covid coverup. May be distract with localized conflict across multiple locations. But will this change the push from other countries to mitigate the single point of dependency in their supply chains and their plans to diversify and move some of it back home?
. They went after Australia for questioning them on Covid and tried to brazen it out. They have taken care of the internal pressure, for the rest of the world, what are they going to do? Write a letter of condemnation?
c] A new General in charge of Western theater looking to establish his cred for a bigger role in the Party?
---> Would all this be possible without sanction from central committee? And again the timing, does it serve a purpose?
This operation extends at least as far back as october 2019, before the CV outbreak and was therefore planned even earlier. I would put the timeline for initiating the planning stage somewhere in 2018, then initial exercises and the beginning of the operational phase with several feint exercises in Oct. 2019. So this is General Zhao's baby. General Zhao needs to show some performance to get into the CMC ( the Chinese version of the Lahore corner plot). He is not a rogue by a long shot. He's closely connected to Xi because of his family background and regional affiliation. This operation has been approved by Xi and definitely would have his inputs.
My guess for the timing is because due to the creation of the WTC and the reorganisation, Zhao must have been busy for a bit, and this is a sequel to Doklam for him. He also has pulled in his trusted people from his earlier posting in Jinan. Even the Chinese soldiers who got clobbered were Jinan Eagle Scouts.
d] Threat of Indian border infrastructure development?
This might have played a role, in that they wanted to have the operation done before the road was complete. They expect airpower to play a major role in any war so preventing full operationalisation of DBO is probably high on their list.
e] Help Iron bro Pakistan?
---> Was there a perceived threat to POK / GB areas and did Cheen come to aid of Pakistan to postpone / prevent such an act? There was just increased CFVs and responses, There was no buildup by India I guess to indicate this was on the cards.
, Pakistan is iron bro in speeches and called minibus in private. They have never helped Pakistan in any war, other than "urging the relevant parties to resolve their disputes through dialogue".
f] Show India its place post Doklam?
---> Was this planned as a lesson to India for India's Doklam pushback and Cheen's loss of face?
Definitely. The actors involved are the same. This operation is better planned. In Doklam opposition by IA was unexpected, here they have planned for a local war.
g] Enhanced Salami slicing, which escalated?
---> Again I guess this would not have happened without approval from top. Troops being exercised conveniently in Tibet quickly redirected to Galwan and Pangong lake. And lots of infrastructure construction post escalation. Did they believe that India would back off and accept the new occupation as the normal to avoid conflict given the Covid, economic and numerous other crisis that hit India?
This operation is much bigger than the traditional salami pizza, which had a fixed template. It's also clear that this time they were looking to provoke India. The Jinan Eagle scouts were brought in to kill Indian soldiers and start a conflict if India fought back.
The timeline suggests that this was planned post Doklam. This is a test run for preparing their soldiers for battle against an adversary they expect to be easily overwhelmed. Why are they doing it? Because they can. Because the world is distracted by CV. This is a bonus. Initially they timed it for the US election. Normally this would have been peak election season for the US. Trump wouldn't have gotten involved in any India-China fight because of that. They think India is a junior ally of the US, so they would be indirectly teaching the US a lesson as well.
The Generals want to try out their toys, their EW, their integrated battle fighting (that's what the WTC was created for). And to scare India out of the US-China equation for the next 30 years. They want to be numbah one by 2050 at the latest. This would all fit.