China is emerging as a major challenge for India, therefore the country needs to look at the future and frame its diplomatic, political and military strategies accordingly, Lt Gen (retd) DS Hooda said on Friday. Participating in a discussion on “Sabre Rattling in Ladakh” on the inaugural day of the three-day Military Literature Festival, the former Northern Army commander talked about the India-China border standoff in eastern Ladakh.
He said a series of talks at political, diplomatic and military levels were held but there seems to be very little progress happening on the ground. “…is this the situation we are continuing to see over the next months and years with thousands of soldiers standing on both sides or is there some potential for negotiations, settlement,” he said.
“Finally, we need to look at the future, we see China emerging as a major challenge for India. Therefore, what should be our diplomatic strategy, what should be our political strategy and what should be our military strategy?” he said, according to a Punjab government release. Participating in the discussion, senior BJP leader Ram Madhav said the military and the government have responded to the situation in an appropriate manner.
“As a military and as a government we have responded to the immediate challenge in an appropriate manner. We stood (our) ground firmly and engaged proactively at diplomatic level. This is definitely a good thing and will yield good results. We did this at time of Doklam also and are doing now too,” he said, referring to the India-China face-off in Doklam. Lt Gen (retd) H S Panag shared his assessment on why did China undertake such an operation in eastern Ladakh and its likely aims.
Former Air Force chief B S Dhanoa moderated a separate discussion on the air power capability of China. He said the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) had sketchy air battle experience which was restricted to bombing operations in the Korean War.
“In fighter operations you have to have deployments where airfields mutually support each other. Airfields are far away in Tibet from each other, in some cases around 400 km. This reduces loiter time for the aircraft, reduces fuel capacity if you have to divert. Our bases are within 100 km of each other in comparison and we can distribute our assets more easily, he said. The Military Literature Festival (MLF), a three-day annual event, is being organised digitally in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was also a session on “the strategic shift in pivot of geography” wherein Chinese expansion and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) were discussed at length. Defence expert Lt Gen (retd) PM Bali said the last three decades have seen strategic rise of China.
He said as feared by international experts, China has set on its conquest over other countries through BRI by means of gaining control of the host country’s economy. The countries agreeing to BRI claim to have long-term capital gains, especially in maritime projects, but it needs to be seen.
Former Indian diplomat Gurjit Singh said that during the British times, China was buffered by Tibet. But now thanks to connectivity and technology the world has flattened. China is now building connectivity through large amount of railways and ports, he said.
American political scientist C Christine Fair also spoke at the MLF and said the world must work together to stop terrorism, according to the release.