Indian Official: ‘If Push Comes to Shove, We Are Prepared’ to Fight China

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Britain for a meeting of the heads of government of Commonwealth nations
AFP Tolga AKMEN

India is “prepared” to force a military stalemate against its rival China if necessary, the Times of India (TOI) quoted an unnamed official as stating this week.

A senior Indian official told TOI on condition of anonymity:

India does not want war. But if the push comes to shove, we are prepared. China has been forced to grudgingly accept that India is no pushover after repeatedly testing our resolve over the last few years, especially during the Doklam troop face-off last year.

Referring to a potential conflict between India and China, a senior Indian Air Force reportedly added:

They will try to use forces to disrupt our airbases. … That’s why during the just-concluded GaganShakti exercise, we war-gamed hitting China from widely dispersed locations. We also conducted maritime interdiction sorties in the Bay of Bengal.

“We have the capability to counter-attack,” an unnamed Indian army officer said.

According to the latest annual Global Firepower (GFP) index, which ranks the armed forces of 133 countries, India trails right behind China.

The countries with the strongest militaries in the world are respectively identified as the United States, Russia, China, India, and France.

Echoing the GFP assessment, the most recent annual Jane’s Defence Budgets Report authored by prominent research firm IHS Markit, determined that the top five military budgets in the globe include that of the U.S., China, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom, from highest to lowest spender.

Although the assessments place China ahead of India, TOI noted that the assessment from “top Indian military commanders” determined that “the swift dragon [China] can be held to a stalemate, even though it may be able to inflict some damage by breathing fire.”

“India is militarily no longer the pushover it was during the 1962 war despite persisting critical operational and infrastructure gaps as well as the ever-expanding military asymmetry with China,” TOI added.

The People’s Liberation Navy “may be much larger but in terms of operational expertise and experience in the Indian Ocean Region, they are far behind. The Chinese Navy is still learning to operate far away from its shores,” an unnamed senior Indian naval officer acknowledged.

Indian commanders provided the assessment of India’s military capabilities soon after Beijing taunted New Delhi over the 2017 stand-off along the border the two countries share in the Doklam region.

In March, China declared the Doklam border region an undisputed “Chinese territory,” once again provoking tensions with New Delhi.

Asserting that Doklam, known as Donglang in China, ultimately belongs to China, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, urged India to “learn some lessons” from the incident.

Hua credited China with having the “wisdom” and leading the “efforts” responsible for resolving China’s face-off with India, noting:

Last year, thanks to our concerted efforts, our diplomatic efforts, and wisdom that we properly resolved this issue. We hope the Indian side could learn some lessons from this, stick to historical conventions and work with China to ensure the peace and stability in the border area as well as a good atmosphere for the development of bilateral ties.

In 1962, China and India went to war over territorial disputes in Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region claimed by Beijing, its ally Islamabad, and their rival New Delhi.

Last year, China’s decision to deploy troops to accompany workers seeking to extend a road into India’s side of the Doklam region triggered a nearly 70-day stand-off (June 16 thru August 28) between the two rivals.

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