Lost in the media’s fake news was a very disturbing report of a clash between India and China, the world’s two most populated nuclear-enabled countries, in the Galwan Valley. If you don’t know where that is, its a north-eastern section that divides China from India. India and China fought a war in 1962 over this and other regions, which China won. Ever since then, the Chinese have been encroaching on the area, and small flare ups have happened now and then, including this latest fight.
What’s different is that India probably learned lessons from last time and was better prepared. Previously China tended to have the upper hand in conflict, but based on the downplay from both sides on the most recent conflict, I’m guessing it was much more of a draw. India’s military has upgraded much, including training, so it was more of an equal fight, especially because that area makes it more difficult for more advanced weapons to be brought to play.
The big lesson to learn here is that China is only going to respect power when it comes to border disputes. If you don’t punch back twice as hard, expect China to simply continue to take. It’s become more apparent that China is like Hitler’s Germany, never quite satisfied with whatever land was given up to satiate Hitler’s desires. China will find excuses to lay claim to the Galwan Valley, Tawang, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Siberia, Hawaii, and whatever else it can get away with.
This also opens up huge opportunities for US-India relations. India has traditionally used Russian weapons and equipment, but as China rolls out more upgraded gear, better equipment and training is needed to stand up to them. Given the U.S. experience in Afghanistan, especially for special warfare personnel, the border disputes give an opportunity for enhanced US-India military training. Even better, from a strategic standpoint, having an open conflict on China’s western border would be a way to temper Chinese ambitions in other areas. China can take on Japan, Taiwan or South China Sea claimants one by one, but if they combine and also face a land war on their western border, its a bit much to handle.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.