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HT Exclusive: PLA expert says China could eject Indian troops from Donglang

Maj Gen (retd) Yao Yunzhu also said China and India are “unlikely to go to war”.

world Updated: Jul 30, 2017 21:24 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
People’s Liberation Army,Academy of Military Science,Donglang standoff
Soldiers at a military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of China's People's Liberation Army at the Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China on July 30, 2017.(Reuters)

China could launch a limited scale military operation against Indian troops to ouster them from the Donglang region near the Sikkim sector, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military expert has said, adding that the “unprecedented nature” of the current dispute could make Beijing look for a strong resolution.

Both the Communist Party of China (CPC)-led government and the PLA are under “huge pressure” to take strong action against the “invasion”, Maj Gen (retd) Yao Yunzhu from PLA’s top research institution, the Academy of Military Science (AMS) told HT.

“China and India are unlikely to go to war, depending how you define war. If it is very small, if it is a limited-scale military operation against an aggression, it is possible,” she said, about ending the standoff in Donglang, now into its second month.

“So, we are talking about very specific military operational issues. What I want to say is that for this Doklam (Donglang) event, Indians have intruded, invaded Chinese territory. That is something that has to be corrected. That is what I have been stressing,” she said, adding that to the military, the “trespass” is “intolerable”.

Yao, who served in the PLA for 45 years and is now director emeritus at AMS’s Centre on China-America Defence Relations, said: “I am not going to be talk about war or military operations, limited or unlimited without a context. The context is this — not only India, any country that has invaded China (or) Chinese territory and stayed on would have to be dealt with whatever means we have, because we cannot accept Chinese territory to be invaded and occupied.”

She indicated that in case of a limited military operation, China will try not to escalate to other parts of the border.

“Let us be specific. We are talking about Doklam (Donglang) incident, not generally along the border. Because on the border we have other mechanisms (to resolve disputes). We should analyse them case by case. But Doklam is an unique case, it is an established border line, uncontested territory,” she said.

Maj Gen (retd) Yao Yunzhu from PLA’s top research institution, the Academy of Military Science. ( HT Photo )

Yao did not specify what kind of operation it could be or didn’t elaborate on the impact of the operation on the PLA.

“I will not say surgical operation, or missile strike or whatever. I will not specify….with whatever means, It has to be corrected…you have an invasion, you have to defeat that invasion,” Yao said.

President Xi Jinping on Sunday said China needs a strong military more than ever, urging building the PLA into world-class armed forces with confidence and capability to “defeat all invading enemies” and “safeguard world peace”.

According to Yao, both the CPC-led government and the PLA are “great pressure” not to back-off from the military impasse with Indian border troops.

“Both the military and the government are under great pressure…not to back-off , backing off is not an option,” she said.

Comparing the armed forces of China and India, Yao said China has a far stronger military.

“We are stronger. The Chinese military is stronger compared to the Indian military... not only in numbers of aircraft, warships, artillery pieces, tanks, we have a much stronger defence industrial base,” she said.

On the aggressive propaganda launched by the PLA and the Chinese defence ministry on releasing information about military exercises, she said the reason is both the 90th anniversary and the Donglang standoff.

“We are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the PLA. It has to do with the celebrations. It also has to do with the Doklam (Donglang) standoff…but troops on the border areas will be in high-readiness because of the standoff,” she said.

First Published: Jul 30, 2017 21:24 IST