Almost one third of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is made up of conscripted soldiers who are forced to serve in the military for two years and then retired. PLA’s conscripted soldiers hardly undergo the rigorous military training.
Ladakh continues to make headlines. Galwan Valley remains tense. And India continues to remain on high alert as it fortifies combat positions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to preempt any further Chinese misadventure. As far as territorial controls are concerned, there has been absolutely no change in the LAC positions despite both India and China building up their troop strengths. The two armies are in combat positions yet no shots are being fired. But China has begun its psychological warfare.
A large section of fifth columnists ensconced at plum positions across India are working overtime to create a fear psychosis about China’s military build up across the LAC. These fifth columnists make ample use of Photoshop images to prove that China has eaten up a few kilometres of Indian Territory in the Galwan Valley. This is far from truth. The fact remains that on June 15 the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) launched an unprovoked attack on Indian soldiers in an anticipation to see their backs, instead, the Indian soldiers hunted down the Chinese. In that fierce battle, more than 35 PLA soldiers were slaughtered by Indian soldiers thereby severely denting the image about PLA’s invincibility. China has since got into a damage control mode, and what better way than to wage psychological war against India.
Interestingly, Galwan Valley remains out of bound for all civilians including the journalists. India has been reiterating time and again that there has been no change in areas under its control. Curiously, this fifth columnist ‘coterie’ has been working overtime to dole out Photoshop satellite images of PLA tents, bunkers and camps at the LAC in order to prove that Chinese men have encroached inside Indian Territory, while the Indian Army continues to sleep. This modus operandi intends to create a fear psychosis in the minds of Indians while covering up for the shortcomings of China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army).
This psychological warfare is critical for China as it covers up the chinks in their armour. Almost 30% ‘soldiers’ in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) comprises of conscripted manpower, who are forced to serve in the military for two years and then retired. This effectively means that the PLA is continuously walking through a revolving door and around one third of the Chinese military is always on its exit route. The manpower serving PLA under compulsion merely adds to the headcount as they hardly undergo the rigours of military training and yet they are posted in combat positions. China’s conscripted herd is hardly a match to battle hardened and professional Indian Army. Moreover these conscripted youth brought up in cushy environment have never had any experience of real war. Almost for their entire term within PLA these conscripted soldiers wield guns in front of civilian populations. There’s a sea of difference when uniformed men wield guns at civilians and when faced with battle hardened soldiers. This differential turned the scales against PLA on June 15 during the battle at Galwan Valley, when Indian soldiers despite being severely outnumbered hunted down the Chinese, broke bones and smashed their skulls.
PLA’s remaining two third soldiers who have donned the battle fatigues know that they are mere cogs in the gambit of Communist Party of China who can be sacrificed at the whims of ‘high command’. A soldier’s passion to sacrifice himself for the nation is clearly missing in People’s Liberation Army where the uniformed men are only headcounts who are used as cannon fodder for communist party’s agenda of grabbing land and expanding its borders. In comparison, Indian military is largely rustic where able bodied men from across the nation willingly join ranks, undergo tough training and are brimming with nationalism. The People’s Liberation Army, in contrast, serves more as the private army of China’s Communist Party rather than for China as a nation.
Feeling of nationalism can be a major differentiator between warring armies when soldiers have to choose between life and death within a fraction of second. Even during the June 15 battle, every Indian soldier knew that if they die in their line of duty they will be remembered as heroes, their martyrdom celebrated, bodies will receive state honours and their family members will be honoured by the Indian society. And India did honour the twenty soldiers martyred on June 15, who were cremated with full state honours.
Nothing of this sort has happened in China. The Communist Party of China has not even officially acknowledged the names of PLA soldiers killed on June 15. The ‘Dragon’ is too embarrassed to publicly acknowledge that despite being armed with barbed wires, knuckles and nail-studded batons they were hunted down by Indians. Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, is still abuzz with angry comments from the family members of slain PLA soldiers who had expected some official honour and a recognition that their kin had sacrificed their lives for the country. But then this was not forthcoming, simply because in the worldview of communist China, a human life holds no value. And here lies the difference of approach between the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army.
China’s Economic woes
Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, China’s economic troubles have been worsening. China’s macro-economic numbers reveal the abyss that it has fallen into.
China counts 900 million people as its active workforce, of which close to 80 million are unemployed today. China also needs to create 11 million newer jobs every year to gainfully engage the fresh workforce. Around 40% Chinese population– almost 600 million people– earn an average of 1000 yuan (Rs 10,600) per month, which is subsistence level income. China’s per capita income has declined by 4% in January-March quarter of 2020 when compared with same period a year ago.
China’s three growth engines also point towards underlying problems within its economy. Consider this: Consumer spending in China has plunged by 19%, exports are down 13%, and fixed asset investments have dipped by 16%. And it doesn’t end here. Roughly 200 million jobs in China come from businesses connected to foreign trade. As China gets into trade brawl with the US and big corporations shift their production bases out of China, most of these jobs could just vanish. All of this is making Chinese population restless and angry, very angry.
President Xi Jinping is aware of these troubles and communist party mandarins have sniffed the groundswell of public resentment. However, rather than take constructive steps to steer China’s economy towards course correction they have resorted to censor dissenting news and redirect anger on the ground towards aggressive nationalism. This is what explains China’s breach of trust with Hong Kong, its bravado with Taiwan, the ongoing Ladakh standoff with India and the latest tussle with Japan over Senkaku Islands in the Pacific.
Ironically, China is not succeeding on any of these fronts. And in order to stay afloat China has initiated “wolf warrior” diplomacy through its foreign office that has unleashed sharp attacks on anybody and everybody who doesn’t toe China’s line. It’s sad that a section of Indian media and self-proclaimed ‘experts’ have become enablers for China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy.
Photoshop satellite pictures of PLA tents, bunkers and Chinese military presence in Galwan Valley and other parts of LAC is leaked to this section of pliable cabal and then a well concerted attack ensues. The sole purpose of this exercise is to mould the narrative in China’s favour and create a fear psychosis within India about Chinese invincibility.
Revealing details of India’s troop deployment will only help China
In combat zones the lines of conflict are often blurred. Indian population needs to rest assured that martyrdom of twenty Indian soldiers and their fierce fight back wherein they slaughtered at least 35-40 PLA soldiers has not been in vain. There is no fresh Chinese transgression post the Galwan clash on June 15.
Indian Army battalions and tanks continue to be deployed along the LAC in Ladakh. India’s troop mobilisation is taking place in accordance with threat perceptions along the LAC. India’s fighter aircraft are on high alert. We need to trust our armed forces. They are in combat positions. They have not gone to the LAC for a picnic!
Geostrategy and combat readiness must be secret. Every military strategy and military movement cannot and must not be discussed in public. Pressurizing the Indian government to reveal finer details of our military strategy will only help China. Writing detailed accounts of our troop deployment will only help China. Indian needs to bury the ghosts of 1962. Barely five years after 1962, Indian Army slaughtered around 900 Chinese soldiers at the Nathu La and Cho La battle in Sikkim and chased away the intruding PLA to its base. China knows it cannot wage a direct fight with India but it will indulge in psychological warfare.
In the coming days China will step up its efforts to spread rumours about Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. This is dragon’s psychological war. Sadly, all those fifth columnists, self-proclaimed ‘defense experts’ and communists will side with China in this psychological war. In 1962 they sided with China, and they will do so again.