From the Viewsroom

A relentless China

Paran Balakrishnan | Updated on June 17, 2021

Global pressure has only made it more belligerent

Adolf Hitler made one cardinal error at the height of World War II. He attacked the Soviet Union and eventually found Germany couldn’t win a war on two fronts. Chinese President Xi Jinping doesn’t appear worried about taking on all comers simultaneously. There’s every indication China is digging in for the long-term in Ladakh and is even strengthening its air presence enormously in the region.

On Tuesday, 28 Chinese jets, the largest number ever, intruded into Taiwanese airspace. This was interpreted globally as China’s riposte to the G7 statement slamming its treatment of the Uighurs and aggressive moves against Taiwan. Closer home in Hong Kong, it stepped up its battle to crush all opposition by arresting the Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief and four others. Apple Daily’s owner Jimmy Lai has been in jail for several months now. The island’s police chief warned journalists: “You should not collude with these perpetrators. Distance yourself from them. Otherwise, all you will be left with are regrets.”

For India, signs emanating from Ladakh couldn’t be worse. Talks have pretty much been suspended and frontline reports indicate the Chinese are building permanent structures and intending to stay on in all-weather constructions. Further inland, a US site, The Warzone, has published images of how the Chinese are strengthening airfields both in Xinjiang and Tibet which will make it easier to bring strong airpower into play in case of a conflict with India. It’s building three new airbases and strengthening five others all the way from Kashgar to Lhasa and beyond. These airbases could reach into Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

“The expansion is breathtaking in its scale and harkens back to the early 2010s in the South China Sea in terms of how fast Beijing is working to shift the strategic reality in the region,” says The Warzone. The message for India is clear: we must prepare to take on a permanently aggressive neighbour.

Published on June 17, 2021

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