PLA opens three fronts in South China Sea to distract the world from Ladakh

Updated on Sep 20, 2020 02:58 PM IST

While both India and China have still to finalise the dates of military commanders’ meeting with each asking for postponement once, PLA is continuing to build-up along the 1,597-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector.

According to a report in Nikkei Asian Review, PLA has mobilised its Southern Theatre Command, which oversees the South China Sea, Northern Theatre Command, which overseas Korean Peninsula, and Eastern Theatre Command, which oversees arch-rivals Japan and Taiwan.
According to a report in Nikkei Asian Review, PLA has mobilised its Southern Theatre Command, which oversees the South China Sea, Northern Theatre Command, which overseas Korean Peninsula, and Eastern Theatre Command, which oversees arch-rivals Japan and Taiwan.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Post the military flare-up at Galwan Valley, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has mobilised four out of five of its military theatre commands with reports suggesting that live firing drills and exercises from the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea to the South China Sea to date were a distraction for its calculated aggression in Ladakh.

While both India and China have still to finalise the dates of military commanders’ meeting with each asking for postponement once, PLA is continuing to build-up along the 1,597-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector. After the India and China foreign ministers’ meeting on September 10 in Moscow, a decision was taken to ask the military commanders to implement the total disengagement and then de-escalation agreement on the ground. The two sides are still to fix a mutually convenient date for the meeting but is expected in this week. It is understood that the meetings at the corps commanders’ level will restrict itself to disengagement of forces post-April and the Depsang Bulge issue will be taken up at a separate divisional commanders’ level.

Also read: PLA’s actions aimed to test India’s mettle

According to a report in Nikkei Asian Review, PLA has mobilised its Southern Theatre Command, which oversees the South China Sea, Northern Theatre Command, which overseas Korean Peninsula, and Eastern Theatre Command, which oversees arch-rivals Japan and Taiwan. The newspaper said that just like the Chinese annexed Tibet in 1950s against the backdrop of its intervention in the Korean war, the present mobilisation was a distraction for a real stand-off in the Karakoram-Zanskar ranges of Himalayas. For the Ladakh operations, PLA’s western theatre command has been fully mobilized with military districts of Xinjiang and Tibet fully involved in the aggression.

The Korean War in the 1950s also turned out to be a distraction for Jawahar Lal Nehru government and Indian diplomacy as they got involved in sorting out the North Korea issue leaving their own flanks in western and eastern sector open to Chinese military in 1962. PLA chose to attack India in 1962 when the entire world was diverted towards the Cuban missile crisis.

Also read: India readies for QUAD and 2 plus 2 dialogues, China is elephant in the room

While India is engaging China through both military and diplomatic channels to resolve the current stalemate, the military commanders are prepared for the worst on all the borders and at sea. They know that distraction, diversion and deception are part of Chinese information warfare with psychological operations playing the lead role before the flag goes up.

By deploying three military commands against the US from South China to the East China Sea and test firing both DF-26 also called Chinese’ Guam Killer and DF-21 D also called the Carrier Killer intermediate-range ballistic missiles in last week of August, the PLA is sending a message that it can take both US on its eastern and India on its western flank. The missile firing was to show-case Chinese capability to taken on the exercising USS Navy’s supercarrier Ronald Reagan and Nimitz around the Chinese nuclear submarine base at Hainan Islands in the South China Sea. Maybe the Ladakh incursion is a distraction for Chinese moves on Taiwan after Hong Kong and not the other way around.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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