Chinese strategist, Hu Shisheng, explains reasons for border tensions with India - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 30 April 2023

Chinese strategist, Hu Shisheng, explains reasons for border tensions with India

Hu Shisheng wrote on Weibo that there were four reasons for China's attack in Galwan that killed 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of PLA soldiers

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 1st May 2023


For the first time since June 2020, when the Galwan River valley in Eastern Ladakh witnessed a fierce clash between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), a senior analyst affiliated to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has given detailed reasons that led to the Chinese aggression.


That confrontation led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops.


"In China's view, the Galwan Valley incident is the inevitable result of India's long-term violation of the 1993, 1996, and even 2005 and 2013 agreements," wrote Hu Shisheng, director of the South Asia Institute of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).


Hu Shisheng was commenting on the Chinese social media website, Weibo, on the visit to Delhi last week by Li Shangfu, China’s defence minister, who came to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) defence ministers’ conclave hosted by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.


This was the first visit by the Chinese defence minister following the PLA’s border transgressions in Galwan and five other areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as the two sides refer to their de facto border.


Hu’s Weibo post, translated by Indian analyst Aadil Brar, detailed four reasons for “why China believes India violated peace at the border.” At least one of those reasons occurred too far back in time, in 1999, to be entirely credible.


The first reason cited by Hu is India’s taking control of the Chumi Gyatse Waterfalls, in the Dongzhang area in 1999. Colloquially referred to as the “Holy Waterfalls”, these are a grouping of 108 waterfalls on the Sino-India LAC near Yangtse, one of the hotly disputed areas along the LAC.


Hu Shisheng’s second reason is more predictable: New Delhi’s amendment of India’s Constitution in August 2019 to change the political status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). This involved revoking the special status that J&K enjoyed under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. In addition statehood to J&K had been withdrawn and the former stated divided into two centrally ruled union territories: Ladakh and J&K.


The third reason Hu cites is the new aggression displayed by Indian military patrols, since early 2020. Hu said these patrols were becoming unduly aggressive, “building bridges and roads, and continuously extending the patrol route.”


In fact, Indian road building units were building and improving border roads that provided and improved connectivity between places on the Indian side of the LAC, such as the so-called Darbuk – Shyok – Daulet Beg Oldi (DSDBO) road that connected up with India’s northernmost posts at the foot of the Karakoram Pass.


The fourth and final reason Hu offered was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had violated the 1988 agreement, arrived at in Beijing between Rajiv Gandhi and Deng Xiaoping, to put the border dispute on the back burner while developing other aspects of the relationship. Hu alleged that Modi had hijacked the border issue by making it a central aspect of bilateral relations.


"As a result, it will be difficult for China-India relations to get out of the sluggish state of 'three deficiencies', that is, lack of forward momentum, lack of normal cooperation, and lack of strategic mutual trust" wrote Hu Shisheng.


The territorial dispute between China and India can be divided into three sectors: The eastern sector in Arunachal Pradesh that extends 90,000 square kilometres; the central sector, near Nepal, that measures 3,000 square kilometres; and the western sector, in Ladakh, that measures 33,000 square kilometres.


Another US-based Chinese academic, Yun Sun, had written soon after the 2020 Galwan clash that the timing and nature of the Himalayan confrontation raised critical questions about China’s strategic calculations and tactical objectives.


“Tactically, China wants to put an end to the infrastructure arms race along the border, but strategically is in no hurry to resolve the disputes as it bogs India down as a continental power,” wrote Yun. 


Some outside observers might see China’s decision to antagonize India as strategically unwise — it may seem imprudent for Beijing to confront a large and important neighbor over barren mountains. But China believes its prestige demands standing up to India whatever the cost. 


How Beijing weighs the pros and cons of its border policies will have implications for regional stability and geopolitical ties among the China, India, and the United States.


Contacted for comments, no reply was received from the government till publishing time.


  1. # language was given to man to conceal is thoughts - Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord "La parole a été donné à l’homme pour déguiser sa pensée"

  2. We will not gain anything in this border dispute. War is not an option. So what are the options ? My suggestion is 1. Accepting AKSAI CHIN as Chinese territory and in lieu of that accepting J&K ( Indian part ) and Arunachal as Indian territory by China. 2. Handing over Chumi Gyatse Waterfalls to China in lieu of a Corridor to Kailash and Manos sarovar. Once this two problems are settled other problem will come into line.

    1. Fake indian...... Nehru lost aksai chin to chinese agression .... And you are saying we legitimise it

  3. Col.,
    Hu Shisheng is a known counter-accusation expert and a what-abouter. His band of PLA apologists believe in continuous lying as a way to manufacture facts. You look at all his recent articles since last 3 years, he has been blaming India for everything before and after Galwan. Hu needs to be treated exactly how Americans treat most of his mainland based PLA apologists- i.e. piece of trash !

  4. The Chinese are, of course, the best at keeping agreements and they never mislead India. Hu needs to give it a break: we arent all idiots,

  5. Its very clear from what the chinese expert says that they dont have any valid reason to attach Galwan. Its just that they want to take it over and they have the means and strength to do so...

  6. China it would appear ,has no worthwhile urban, industrial or military conglomeration within reach of our present offensive military equipment , apart from operating from the Tibetan plateau , which allows for faster troop and munitions movement


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