Home Contact Us  

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3899, 30 April 2013
Intrusion in Ladakh: Warning from China
Jayadeva Ranade
Member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) &
Distinguished Fellow, IPCS

The 19-kilometres deep intrusion by an armed patrol of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the strategically sensitive area around Daulet Beg Oldi in the Aksai Chin region, and detected on 16 April 2013, has been unprovoked.

It is necessary at the outset to dispel any notions that the ongoing over two week long stand-off between armed patrols of the PLA and the Indian Army in the barren, but strategically important, area around Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO) is an isolated or unplanned incident. Similar incidents of armed eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation have occurred with increased frequency, especially since 2008, along the entire length of our 4,057 kilometres border. On this occasion, Beijing seems to have a specific motive. Interestingly, the intrusion coincided with the release of China’s latest Defence White Paper and PLA Navy Day.

The attributes of this stand-off, which has dragged on in the full glare of India’s print and visual media for over twelve days, are different. Pertinent is that Beijing remains transparently unmoved by the adverse media publicity and damage it has caused to India-China relations. It has neither moved to resolve the situation despite three flag meetings at the level of local army commanders and communications from New Delhi requesting resolution. Beijing has thus made it abundantly clear that it will defuse the situation only at a time of its choosing. Beijing’s stance confirms too that the stand-off is not a local incident provoked by the action of a local commander, but one initiated with the full knowledge of China’s senior leadership.

The timing of this intrusion points to a specific motive. It comes just weeks before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan and is a warning against India expressing support to Japan. The backdrop is the steadily escalating tension between China and Japan over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands.

In the context of China’s national interests, China’s top echelon leaders strongly apprehend that the US is putting together an alliance comprising India, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia to contain China’s rise. Articles in China’s official media, including signed articles by Minister-level Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cadres, have candidly stated this. China’s latest Defence White Paper released on 16 April 2013, in a thinly veiled comment declared that “Some country has strengthened its Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanded its military presence in the region, and frequently makes the situation there tenser.” The reference to the US is implicit.

Tension between China and Japan over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands has risen since 2010. China has been adamant in asserting its maritime territorial claims over the Senkakus (Diaoyu). Two specific developments highlight the extent of this tension and Beijing’s determination not to yield concessions. The Defence White Paper released on April 16, specifically named Japan as one among “some neighbouring countries” that are taking actions to exacerbate the situation. It accused Japan of “making trouble over the issue of the Diaoyu islands”.

More significant is the statement of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson. Speaking at the regular Foreign Ministry briefing in Beijing on April 26, 2013, she repeatedly, and for the first time publicly, referred to the Diaoyu Islands as a matter of “core interest” for China.  The statement raises the level of the dispute significantly and clarifies that Beijing does not consider the matter open for negotiation.

There have been warning indicators earlier that Beijing views the growing warmth in relations between India and US and between India and Japan with suspicion. In the days following the largest ever US-ROK joint military exercises in July 2010, a Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspaper observed: “the issue of China’s territorial disputes with neighbouring countries will ignite the flames of war sooner or later. If a country must be chosen for sacrifice, India will be the first choice…India’s long term occupation of southern Tibet is indeed worrying…If armed force is used to resolve border disputes, China must pick a country to target first, and it will definitely pick a big country, which means choosing between Japan and India…”.  Other references stated that China’s relationship with India and Japan had limits imposed by history. With this Beijing dragged India into the South China Sea dispute.

China’s latest action needs to be viewed in the backdrop of the People’s Republic of China’s readiness to employ military force on issues of national interest relating to its security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Beijing is adept at using a blend of threats and promise of military retaliation to deter an adversary from taking actions contrary to Beijing’s interests. India needs to calibrate and time its response. For a start it could withhold reiteration during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit of the formulation that the Tibet Autonomous Region is a part of China.

Views expressed are personal     

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Modi Sets a Regional Agenda

China: Document No. 9 and the New Propaganda Regime

No Tangibles

China, Tibet & Beijing's New Thinking

The Xi Jinping-Obama Summit

Special Commentary: China's Defence White Paper 2013

China-South Korea Presidential Summit: Fait Accompli?

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.