To kick start the discussion, we can use the recent PLA incursion at DBO as a backdrop. Please post your views on the incident or for that matter of fact anything related to India and China.
I'm going to post couple of thoughts I had on the Sino-Indian border issue:
1.The status as obtained today on LAC is perfectly acceptable to Chinese. It accrues multiple advantages to them. First and foremost, the Chinese have bound India in multiple treaties since early 90s which are euphemistically aimed at better border and associated conflict management. In addition to these treaties, we have various working groups on border dispute and other such stuff. What these treaties do is create a false of normalcy and preserve a status quo which is advantageous to the Chinese. Chinese have steadfastly refused to share maps of their claim line or their perception of where the LAC lies. This ambiguity suits the Chinese and allows them to calibrate their actions as per the requirement.
For example, the Chinese can always claim an area which gives them military advantage (or puts us in tight spot) as per latest developments on the ground. These areas may well have not been there in claim lines of 1956 or 1960. There was a report in TOI about Chinese laying claim to certain grazing areas which were with Indian earlier. The latest incident in DBO is in same vein. On the other hand, India has gained nothing by way of these treaties. These treaties have led India on a wild goose chase where we have been made to think that these interim treaties and working groups are precursor to final border settlement. In my opinion, nothing could be farther from truth.
2.Another very big advantage of these treaties and false sense of normalcy is in terms of force commitment levels on the ground. Chinese can get away by committing bare number of troops upfront along the LAC. These Border Defense Regiments are there to simply to show the Chinese flag and carry out the border patrols. Their patrols and violations of LAC (as perceived by us) help to keep the pot boiling and keep the Chinese claims in a dynamic state.
In our effort to not rock the boat and maintain the façade of normalcy (which Indian diplomatic and political establishment believes in), we’ve reciprocated by getting the ITBP to man the border. And keep Indian Army as far away as possible from LAC. This approach allows the Chinese to get away by keeping bare number of troops on the ground.
3.There is another far more serious angle to this method of border management and false sense of normalcy. We know that Chinese have a geographical advantage in terms of their lines of communication being based on the flat Tibetan Plateau. Now, what the Chinese have done is use this ‘peace’ period to build up the infrastructure which will allow the formations to move quickly into conflict areas along the LAC. Unlike us, Chinese do not suffer from last mile connectivity.
We on the other hand have made no effort to build any worthwhile infrastructure of any kind. Tomorrow, if the push comes to shove, the Chinese can move large body of troops into these areas and stare down at us. And we’d be found wanting. The tragedy of the situation is that in case of India, the base to support a large scale conflict in Ladakh exists much closer to LAC. Leh is the center of gravity and apart from threat of missiles, is ringed by high mountain ranges which prevent any direct threat to it. What we’ve not done however, is to develop infra from this base to forward areas. Leh is the proverbial knot of a Japanese fan from where communication axis emanate to each of the four major sectors along Ladakh LAC.
Now, the Chinese want us to stop development of any infra of this sort and permanently put us on a back-foot. If we develop the road infra from this base to forward areas, we can actually go one up on the Chinese. For example, while we can play the Chinese games of maintaining lower number of troops on LAC, in case of any conflict/tension/shooting match, we can move forces faster to the border. This would be reverse of what we face against Pakistan on western border. We should have demonstrated capability of hitting out and wiping Chinese presence along Ladakh LAC and taking back Indian Territory. The forces can be maintain in rear areas and using the infrastructure, moved to LAC in double speed and whack the PLA. For example, an Integrated Battle Group (IBG) centered on a RAPID with an armored bde should be available to dash to Dhemchok and drive the PLA back to their rear bases.