SRINAGAR: Terming current standoff between Indian and Chinese armies on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as “serious”, former Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General (retd) DS Hooda on Wednesday said Beijing is trying to send across a message that they have not been weakened by coronavirus pandemic.
“It is not a normal standoff that occurs every summer. I think it is much more serious. It looks much more coordinated than in the past. The number of troops involved is much more. It has happened at multiple places including those where no problem existed in the past. For example, Galwan River was never a flashpoint. It is a situation that needs to be looked into very seriously,” Lt Gen Hooda told The Kashmir Monitor in an exclusive interview.
The former military commander said both armies are professional and equally well prepared. “China has an advantage in terms of infrastructure development. Their roads are right up to the LAC. It is not the case with us. However, the infrastructure is being developed. Having said so, we have sufficient main roads on which troop movement can take place. There is no major military advantage to either of the sides. Both sides are equally well prepared,” he said.
Lt Gen Hooda said in the past five to six years there has been tremendous improvement in the infrastructure. “Forces capabilities have increased to a large extent. We have moved-in sufficient forces to Ladakh. In 2015-2016, there were images of tanks and APGs flown into Ladakh. Those were strategic lift capabilities that were demonstrated. I think as far as military capabilities and preparedness are concerned, there is not much to worry about. Having said so, if things calm down without getting us into some kind of conflict with China, I think it will be better for both countries,” he said.
The former general said it is a perception battle and China is trying to send across a message that they have not been weakened by the virus. “They think that they are still a big power and should not be taken lightly. Another message they are trying to send out is that do not get involved in the US-China trade war or be on Washington’s side,” he said.
Former Northern Army Commander noted that China does not want all-out war given its trade linkages with India. “The basic fact is that there are strategic differences between India and China. There is strategic rivalry in Asia because China sees India as a rising power. They see India aligning with the US. The reality in geopolitics is that no rising power wants another rising power in its neighborhood. The rivalry between India and China is going to play out irrespective of leadership or chemistry between the leaders. These differences are not so easily bridged,” he said.
Lt Gen Hooda debunked the perception that entire LAC is witnessing some kind of conflict. “We all know LAC is neither demarcated on the ground nor marked on the map. The reality is that LAC is 800 km long. It is five or six pockets where there are differences in perception. Transgressions are not happening on the entire LAC,” he said.