‘China wants to keep pushing India’

‘China doesn’t want to settle the boundary dispute because that gives them a reason to pick a fight with India.’

IMAGE: Indian soldiers unfurls the Tricolour in the Galwan Valley on New Year. Photograph: ANI Photo

“We have to increase our comprehensive power to take on China,” says Lieutenant General P J S Pannu, (retired), former commander of the XIV corps which is responsible for the China border.

“India needs to become strong, accelerate growth, strengthen the defence industry, increase GDP and ensure that the country is internally strong and well-integrated,” General Pannu tells Rediff.com‘s Archana Masih in the concluding part of the interview.

What is China’s real objective?

1. Territory;
2. Prevent India from building infrastructure close to LAC;
3. Keep India on edge in view of India’s proximity to the USA;
4. Ensure that India remains neutral till the next Dalai Lama is chosen;
5. Show its hegemony in Asia?

All of the above. China doesn’t want to settle the boundary dispute because that gives them a reason to pick a fight with India.

China thinks it’s best is to keep the wounds open; keep pushing us around. China does not want any opposition from India. The Chinese do not want India to stake its claim anywhere and allow China to actually become a bully.

What does India need to do to keep China quiet?

India needs to become strong, accelerate our growth, strengthen our defence industry, increase our GDP and ensure that India is seen as a country which is internally strong and well-integrated.

Unless India stands up as a country whose internal fabric is well knit, we will keep struggling as the economy will suffer if there are internal problems.

We must have our own technology, industrial base, research and development and quality education.

We have to increase our comprehensive power to take on China.

To counter the Chinese threat, the Indian Army has shifted six divisions earlier deployed in counterterrorism in J&K to LAC. Does that increase vulnerability on the Pakistan border?

No, not at all. The Indian armed forces have enough capability to throw in reserves because the entire army does not remain deployed all the time.

If required for short to medium term, the Indian armed forces can muster in all resources and make sure that during hours of need we are well balanced and well poised for two front war.

There are a number of formation and units which are fresh and remain trained in the peace stations in the hinterland. They will all be pushed to the borders, and we will be able to maintain a strategic balance on both the borders.

What is the possibility of a return to the status quo ante of April 2020?

When you look at the claims, India’s international border includes Aksai Chin (occupied by China). When we say status quo 2020, are we also saying that Aksai Chin is with China? India will never say or accept that because we have claims on entire Aksai Chin.

China does not want that and as long as there are claims and counter claims, the situation is never going to get resolved.

Till then, we have a status quo to maintain peace at the border. India has a notion of victory. China may also have a notion of victory, but they are unable to pull back because then what will they tell their people after losing men in Galwan?

The two leaders and two countries have to decide. Some sort of Track II diplomacy is needed to create a win-win situation. Track II is extremely important. Diplomacy has to be given its own due and leaders have to show maturity and statesmanship to bring it to a win win situation.

But the point is whether China is going to allow a win win situation because China can only win if India loses — and India will not allow that.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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