China’s Defense Minister said recently that his country is preparing for conflict “in every direction”. As per him, “our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction.”
Why because: “We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away,”
There are many fronts on which China could have a fight on its hands. Japan and Taiwan to the East (along with US) and India on the South, and US globally. The fight can have economic and military manifestation.
From the global scale warfare China’s preparation includes:(sources: Telegraph)
- launching its own aircraft carrier next year
- work on a “carrier-killing” ballistic missile that could sink US carriers from afar
- Chinese anti-ship missile, the Dong Feng 21, having already achieved “initial operational capability”, although it would require years of testing
- heavy investment in “anti-access” weapons designed to win a limited war in the region
War Games between US and China are always planned by various people, like this attempt by Popular Mechanics.
Against India, it is making extensive preparations. From airbases, to road network to railway lines, work is underway on every front. For most part of the past 3 decades, China has used Pakistan as its vassal state, which has been doing its biding at the expense of its own existence. Most of the weapons – Nuclear and otherwise – with Pakistan are now from China. Having said that, there is a clear danger of Pakistan unravelling and collapsing on itself. Also since US is in Afghanistan and Pakistan, if a war situation occurs where the forces align, then it is more than likely that India will align with the US this time, and Pakistan aligns with China. In such a scenario, it will be important for China to hurt India. Therefore, it has already started planning its strategic assets around India as well. Some of these are:
- nuclear missile bases in Qinghai province
- five fully-operational airbases, where Chinese Sukhoi-27UBK and Sukhoi-30MKK fighters have practised operations in recent times.
- upgrading several other airstrips in TAR as well as south China
- an extensive rail network – (Extension of Qinghai Tibet Railway to Xigaze is in progress and railway line from Kashgar to Hotan in Xinjiang Uighur Autonmous Region is under construction)
- over 58,000 km of roads in Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), which can help amass more than two divisions (30,000 soldiers) at their “launch pads” along the border in just 20 days now as opposed to over 90 days earlier
- increase of the annual military budget to $91.5 billion
India, though lethargic, slow and inefficient in its reply, has made some preparations on its Eastern Border with China. A look at some of the preparations is the list below.
- two new airbases in Chabua and Tezpur in Assam, where both airbases will have two Sukhoi squadrons (one squadron has 16 to 18 jets) each
- Indian Army has raised two new mountain infantry divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers (56 Division with HQ in Zakama (Nagaland) under the Dimapur-based 3 Corps, and the 71 Division at Missamari (Assam) which is under the operational command of the Tezpur-based 4 Corps)
- Indian Airforce upgrading eastern sector ALGs (advanced landing grounds) (Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro and Vijaynagar) apart from several helipads in Arunachal
- reactivation of western sector ALGs like Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyama in eastern Ladakh
Irrespective of what the Governments and the politicians of the two countries keep harping on, the truth is that India and China have competing interests and there is a real possibility of a military stand off. If the time is not right – of global showdown – the chances are that US may not fully align with India due to its own commercial interests in China. The regional and global equations will play a large role, but India will need to stand on its own feet at that time.
What do you think, would we see a real war between India and China? If yes, then how will the alignments work?