History Indicates China Will Never Back-Down From A Military Confrontation With India – Analyst

China and India have failed to advance with the disengagement of forces at the remaining points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), blaming each other for the deadlock during the latest round of commander-level talks.

The 13th round of talks took place on Sunday.

“The Chinese side made great efforts to promote the easing and cooling of the border situation and fully demonstrated China’s sincerity of maintaining overall interests of bilateral military relations. However, the Indian side still persisted in its unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which added difficulties to the negotiations,” the Chinese ministry said in a statement.

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Beijing is determined to defend national sovereignty and hopes that India will “avoid misjudging the situation and cherish the hard-won situation in the China-India border area,” the statement read.

“The Indian side should abide by the relevant agreements and consensus reached between the two countries,” it added.

The Indian armed forces, in turn, blamed the situation at the LAC on China’s attempt to “alter the status quo.”

“During the meeting, the Indian side, therefore, made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals. The meeting thus did not result in resolution of the remaining areas,” the statement said.

Since May 2020, the border region has seen a series of stand-offs between India and China. The sides later stepped-up military presence in the area.

In an effort to settle the conflict, the two nations launched disengagement consultations in early June 2020, with the first phase of disengagement on the northern and southern banks of Pangong Lake completed this February. In August, the process was carried out at the Gogra Post.

History Favors China?

Lessons from Chinese history have confirmed that Beijing will not shy away from military confrontation with India, a Chinese political analyst told Sputnik after the deadly Galwan Valley clashes.

As China faces heightened tensions with the United States in both the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, political analysts believe that India decided to take a more aggressive stance on the border because New Delhi thinks Beijing will make compromises to avoid military confrontations on different fronts.

However, Chinese political analysts argued that history has shown that Chinese rulers have not usually shied away from military conflicts on different fronts because they needed to project a strong image for the domestic audience to protect the legitimacy of their rule.

Indian K9 SPH at Ladakh during 2020–2021 China–India skirmishes

“This is part of China’s cultural traditions. No matter if it was during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, or during the rule of the Nationalist Party, the rulers were never afraid of fighting wars on different fronts against both domestic rebels and foreign enemies at the same time,” Ni Lexiong, a military expert at the University of Politics and Law in Shanghai, told Sputnik.

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The scholar illustrated how previous Chinese rulers reacted under similar situations.

“During the Ming dynasty, the rebel army led by Li Zicheng almost took over half of China. But when the Manchurian army arrived at the Shanhaiguan, the Ming court fought against them at once.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President of China Xi Jinping before the beginning of the 2017 BRICS Leaders’ meeting – Wikimedia Commons

During the Qing dynasty, forces of the Taiping Rebellion occupied a number of key provinces and established a capital in Nanjing. But that did not stop the Qing court from fighting with the British and French troops during the second opium war. During the era under the Nationalist Party, the government was fighting a civil war against the communist forces, but never stopped resisting Japanese armies when they invaded China,” he said.

The expert noted that domestic challenges including Hong or Inner Mongolia would force Chinese leaders to present a strong image when facing foreign enemies like India.

“When facing domestic rebellions, the Chinese rulers would have to prove legitimacy of its rule. That is why when facing foreign enemies, they would have to take a firm stance and prove that they are the legitimate guardian of the country. That is why they can not make compromises when facing a foreign enemy like India. That is how they can maintain their domestic rule,” he said.

Ni pointed out that the experiences of Chinese President Xi Jinping when he was a teenager would also likely lead him to be tough against India.

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“I believe Xi would choose a firm stance. I think this is part of his character because he was also a zhiqing like myself. This generation of Chinese leaders are mostly zhiqing, who were sent to the countryside when they were teenagers during the Cultural Revolution. When we were zhiqing, we were always involved in fistfights in groups and would never shy away from confrontations. That is why I think Xi has a similar passionate personality,” he said.

Nevertheless, other Chinese political analysts argued that both China and India had no intention of engaging in military conflicts with each other.

Xi Jinping, BRICS summit 2015 – Wikimedia Commons

“I think both countries know very well that neither side wants to fight a war against each other. Otherwise, why would troops from both countries engage in large group fistfights? Such fistfights were a clear sign that neither side wants to start a war. Once shots are fired, it would definitely lead to war. That’s why both sides wanted to avoid firing shots as much as possible,” Li Datong, a Beijing-based political analyst who served as an editor at the Communist Party newspaper, China Youth Daily, told Sputnik.

Despite the border area’s low strategic value for China, it would be unlikely for Beijing to offer more concessions to India because of the transparency of the social media age, Li added.

“It is impossible for China to ignore India’s actions in the border area, because the domestic audience would never accept that. In the social media age, any changes in the area would appear on the internet at once. Even for someone like me, I have already seen the footage of the group fistfights between troops of the two countries. This is unimaginable before. That is why it is impossible for the authorities to hide any compromises,” he said.

Li believed domestic issues could have been the driving force of India’s aggressive stance in the border dispute with China, as Xi is unlikely to face major domestic challenges until the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2022.