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China and India’s battle over disputed territory has halted peace due to tensions which have been called the worst in decades between the two nations. An expert has warned that the President of the People’s Republic of China may be sending more aggressive orders to strengthen its military position over its neighbours.
Frank O’Donnell, Nonresident Fellow in the Stimson Center South Asia Program, told Express.co.uk: “I have the sense that there was a general order to the theatre commands, with Xi Jinping’s approval, to loosen their rules of engagement and be more aggressive.
“This would help Xi demonstrate strength to the rest of the Politburo, and help place him back on the front foot after coronavirus and the economic effects of it.
“Xi is far less secure in his personal authority and position than is often projected.”
Tensions between the two nuclear neighbours have remained high since the Galwan Valley attack in June.
The collision saw 20 Indian soldiers die following a clash with Chinese troops in the area.
The hand-to-hand battle was the most serious military confrontation between the two neighbours in more than half a century.
Mr O’Donnell explained the factors blocking China and India from resolving the border dispute.
He said: “China does not wish to yield the strategically important territory which it has seized.
“Among other advantages gained by its territorial grab, Chinese forces are now in a position to potentially cut off the critical Indian Darbuk–Shyok–Daulat Beg Oldi strategic supply road which connects several military bases in Ladakh.”
The Darbuk–Shyok–Daulat Beg Oldi (DSDBO) road is a strategic all-weather road in eastern Ladakh and has been in the making for about two decades.
The construction of the 255-km road could be the most substantial target for China’s People’s Liberation Army.
It is strategically important because it connects Ladakh’s capital to the military base in Daulat Beg Oldi which has one of the world’s highest airstrips.
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It can also ensure faster deployment of Indian troops in the area during a conflict.
China does not want India to utilise the DSDBO road to its full potential.
Despite Beijing’s objections and the border confrontations, India continued to construct the strategic road.
But Mr O’Donnell has highlighted that India has under-appreciated military advantages over China.
He said: “India also has more and better aircraft along the border, more experienced air crews, as well as a resilient basing position.”
India has a large number of airfields in the East and West of the country.
Mr O’Donnell pointed out that even if some airfields are down during a conflict, India’s operations can still continue from other locations.
He added: “Because of this, Chinese strategic planners intend for early long-range missile strikes against Indian air bases instead of a regional aircraft offensive.
“However, India benefits from the greater number and redundancy of regional air bases, and the daunting number of Chinese missiles required to truly incapacitate relevant Indian air forces.”
Mr O’Donnell said the current relationship between India and China “is probably the worst it has been in decades”.
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