Chinese paramilitary police
China may resort to territorial grabs, including through a "major military offensive", especially in Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, and India should respond with "a strategy of quid pro quo", says a report by an independent group of Indian analysts.
"Our frontiers with China have been mostly stable for some years now. However, China could assert its territorial claims (especially in the Arunachal sector or Ladakh) by the use of force," says the report that seeks to outline a foreign and strategic policy for India in the 21st century.
"There is the possibility that China might resort to territorial grabs. The most likely areas for such bite-sized operations are those parts of the Line of Actual Control where both sides have different notions of where the LAC actually runs. These places are known," says the report.
The report contends that India can't "entirely dismiss the possibility of a major military offensive in Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh".
The report entitled "Non-Alignment 2.0: A Foreign and Strategic Policy for the 21st century", was unveiled on Tuesday evening at a panel discussion at Hotel Ashok in which National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and his immediate predecessors M.K. Narayanan, currently West Bengal governor, and Brajesh Mishra participated.
"China will, for the foreseeable future, remain a significant foreign policy and security challenge for India. It is the one major power which impinges directly on India's geopolitical space. As its economic and military capabilities expand, its power differential with India is likely to widen," says the publication in a chapter entitled "The Asian Theatre".
The debate on India's options in dealing with an emerging China, among other things, has coincided with the two-day visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to India that began Wednesday.
The report goes on to say that in case of a military offensive or territorial grab, India will need "a mix of defensive and offensive capabilities" to restore the status quo ante.
"Indeed, given the fact that the combat ratio and logistical networks favour China and that the attacker will always have the advantage of tactical (if not strategic) surprise, we will need a mix of defensive and offensive capabilities to leverage the advantages the terrain offers."
The better way of responding to limited land grabs by China, the report suggests, is for India to take similar action across the LAC: a strategy of quid pro quo. These areas should be identified and earmarked for limited offensive operations on our part, the report recommends.
In the event of a major offensive by China, the report suggests India should not resort to a strategy of proportionate response. "Rather we should look to leverage our asymmetric capabilities to convince the Chinese to back down."
The report recommends that India must prepare itself to trigger an insurgency in the areas occupied by Chinese forces and to develop the capability to interdict the logistics and military infrastructure in Tibet.
The report outlines other strategies to counter the Chinese offensive which includes accelerating the integration of the frontier regions and its people by speeding up and improving communication infrastructure with the mainland and to expand naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean region.
"Due to the multiplicity of the agencies involved, there is need to establish a Maritime Commission. The crucial decision we face here concerns the quantum of additional resources that we must devote to developing our maritime power."
The report has been co-authored by a group of analysts comprising Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary and special envoy to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; Nandan Nilekani, chairman of Unique Identity Development Authority of India; Lt General (retired) Prakash Menon, military advisor to the National Security Council Secretariat; Sunil Khilnani, professor of history at King's College, London's India Institute; Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president, Centre for Policy Research (CPR); Rajiv Kumar, FICCI secretary general; Srinath Raghavan, senior fellow at CPR; and Siddharth Vardarajan (Editor, The Hindu).