Earlier Articles In Series


Sino Indian Logjam – A Review


No Go For China in the Logjam


Sino Indian Logjam : Aim, Capability and Environmental Analysis


Sino Indian Logjam : Facts, Risks, Options and the Sum of all Fears

Sino Indian Logjam: The Winter Haul


As Ladakh has got colder Chinese have indulged in a Three Card Trick. Give up Finger 4. Gain Kailash Range. Retain Depsang.  Natural and expected from the ever untrustworthy Chinese. However, we need to see why they are doing it and what our reaction should be. There has been no action on the battlefield except it has got colder. Let us review the situation on ground and then step back to analyse certain factors. 

By now Eastern Ladakh must be awfully cold. Leh reports minus 13 at night and feels like minus 2 at 1030 in the morning. Eastern Ladakh must be another 10-20 degrees less than that, depending on where you are. Heights would have snow and Pangong Tso would be more than half frozen. The wind swept plains would be chilling the bones. There  were reports that our soldiers are running short of warm clothing and equipment. There were also reports that USA had to bail us out with about 11000 thousand sets. Well, the reality is that our troops are well kitted and stocked with sufficient ammunition.  Not only in Ladakh, but also along the LOC and in the East. That should be a total of about 2.5 lakhs sets of warm clothing. So the 11000 odd sets from USA are only small time fillers. To put in perspective, we have been up in Siachen since the 80’s. We  know what it takes there and are set for it. No sweat. 


On the other hand, the perspective I get is that the Chinese are feeling the heat of the cold! Suddenly reports surfaced of enhanced Chinese causality evacuations. Catching cold? Then, one finds that Global ’Idiotic’ Times comes out with reports of buildings with oxygen and warming facilities. That is a giveaway. In high altitude, I would inhale oxygen only if I am in a HAPO (high altitude pulmonary odema) situation. If every building they build has enhanced oxygen facility, then their troops are constantly less than acclimatized.  That is survival with less than optimal battle fitness. In four tenures and innumerable high altitude visits, I have used Oxygen only thrice as a precaution – when getting in/ out of a chopper on the Glacier. It was also funny to see the Global ’Idiotic’ Times coming out with videos showcasing food delivery by drones. I suppose fresh Pangolin meat straight out of the wet market from Wuhan with the virus as a side dish was being air delivered to hardy young Han lads. After some time, I saw videos of Chinese troops hanging on to tails of mules while doing their logistics routine. What a come down to reality! In mountains, mules remain the best fail safe drones. Chinese are learning fast. In the land of Lama don’t behave like a Gama!! All Corps in in Northern Command, have  a battle school. Every unit is mandatorily put through pre-induction training – hardened and weeded. The Chinese do not have any such system. Inputs indicate that the Chinese have brought in Russian speaking experts to train their troops. All the best to them. Why am I telling you all this? Our troops are very well stabilized and in a far better position than Chinese to exploit the situation. So why should reports of a three Phase dis-engagement leave me amused?  


The 8th round of Sino – Indian Corps Commander-level talks were held on 05 Nov and an  anodyne statement was released. In a couple of days a three stage disengagement plan surfaces in the media. Our acclaimed and regular media ‘experts’ claimed that the standoff would be over even before Deepawali! First Step. Tanks and armoured personnel carriers were to move back from their frontline deployment to a significant distance from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by both sides within one day. Second Step. Near  Pangong Tso, both sides were supposed to withdraw around 30%  troops every day for three days. The Indian side forming in at Finger 3 and the Chinese to go back to the East of Finger 8. Third Step. Withdraw  from their respective positions from the frontline along the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso which includes the heights and territories around Chushul and Rezang La area. No mention of Depsang! 


Analyse the three card trick. Dangle withdrawal from Finger 4 as a carrot. Whether the Chinese remain at Finger 4 or 8 is immaterial. It has no further tactical or strategic difference. Even virus laden bats do not live there! Get Indians off the Kailash Range in a pro quid quo. The Chusul gateway opens. Grab Kailash Range heights at the first opportunity after the Indians vacate. Maintain stance and consolidate Depsang. Go to the world and announce about the great Chinese victory – winning without fighting. Game set and match – China! 


Examine the deception further. When our media is agog with  the disengagement plans  with our emotional analysts crying hoarse about the great sell off on Kailash Range, the Chinese media refutes that there is any plan. However after a couple of days, they come out with this great analysis that maybe the Indians are weakening and want to reach a conclusion to the conflict. That is why Indian media is discussing this. Indians are now prepared to discuss peace at Chinese terms! Typical Chinese deceptive strategy. Mind games at work. Deepawali has come and gone. Nothing further heard.


Let us for a moment think that this plan was credible and real. Who was to monitor the execution of the plan? Are we contemplating joint monitoring with untrustworthy Chinese? If we get beyond that, how do we manage the buffer zones which are to created? By trusting the Chinese? On what basis is this plan drawn which leaves Depsang out?  Who initiated it? Our media falls hook line and sinker for it. 


Consider this also. Every step and turn, over the past seven decades, that we have taken with the Chinese is still being scrutinised minutely with a lens. Every conversation we have had with Pakistan is granulated.  We ourselves say that what India has gained tactically on the battlefield, it has lost strategically on the summit tables. In such a situation how do we fall for such three card tricks? History will never forgive  modern day Jaichands, who take ill-informed decisions to fall for the trap.  


An accommodation with China on the border and disengagement has many dimensions. Soldiers and veterans will see it emotionally through the prism of sacrifice for the territory/ advantage gained/ lost. The  Government will evaluate the overall situation – militarily, economically and diplomatically regarding the overall effort including maintaining  a relationship with China in future – Good , Bad or ugly. The average citizen will see if India has succeeded. An international observer will see if China succeeds or not and its impact on world affairs. To arrive at a balanced decision which has far reaching proportions, with such diverse perspectives, needs informed political debate and plan at national level. An agreement other than to enforce a peaceful status quo to avoid flareups or to respond to an emergent situation is beyond the scope of military talks. There has to be political talks and understanding based on transparency. It needs trust. People need to be convinced that we have not been sold out or dealt a dummy. There must be political consensus. If a unilateral decision is taken, history will not forgive the current Prime Minister, like it has not forgotten our Prime Minister of 1962 for his folly of trusting the Chinese. So far the Government or the Army has not clarified the actual status at Depsang. Have we been pushed back or are we being blocked access? In such a situation even to contemplate  to make a deal with China, without transparency or trust is being foolish. History will not forgive fools.


 On the other hand  our PM talks of ‘Prachand  Jawab’ and ‘days of expansionism are over’ at Longewala. It was an obvious message to China. All ministries have repeatedly flagged their concerns regarding Chinese influence in day to day life and how to reduce it. We have banned Tik Tok and its siblings. We have taken a clear position against BRI and RCEP. We are leaning towards the QUAD. We are preparing for an ATMA NIRBHAR BHARAT. In any case Chinese will insist on a comprehensive dialogue to include trade and economics. Do we want to go back to CHINA NIRBHAR BHARAT?  Are we prepared for that? Under the conditions, does one still think that a disengagement plan is on?


There is yet another factor. As long as China is kept on the hook and is forced to commit troops and resources in a situation it can never master, the more it looks foolish. Already one sees that the Chinese balloon is a bit deflated. I have been maintaining that as long as the Virus lasts and as long as this current situation on the LAC lasts, China will continue to be in a face losing situation. So why the hurry? Moreover, if the issue is settled, China will be free to start some adventure elsewhere. Keep it there in the frozen wastes of Eastern Ladakh and China will come to its senses.     


China will try its mind games and try to seed disinformation as it is a habit to do so. All the hot air about teaching India a lesson has frozen in Ladakh. There was lot of talk that China will attack and capture Taiwan when the US Presidential elections are on. That was supposed to be the ideal window of opportunity to capture Taiwan. The election has come and gone.  There is still uncertainty in USA. Militarily, the US eyes are off the ball. The window remains open. China has not taken a single step to mount an amphibious attack on Taiwan. Hot air again. 


As far as I see it, we are in a groove and prepared for the winter in High Altitude. We still need to secure further advantage in Eastern Ladakh to break the logjam. The winter is our opportunity. This is the time for some engagement (direct or indirect) to destabilise PLA. The time for disengagement is far away. I hope we have a plan.  








17 responses to “SINO INDIAN LOGJAM – THE CHINESE THREE CARD TRICK by Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)”

  1. An erudite assessment of the prevailing situation. And another timely reminder to the decision makers not to fall in the trap. I'm sure Sir, your writings always catch the eyes that matter, whether they accept it or not. My wish for our decision makers and our soldiers braving it all – is an excerpt of the NDA prayer:'Endow us with the courage which is born of love of what is noble, and which knows no compromise or retreat when truth and right are in peril.' NO COMPROMISE – NO RETREAT. What is ours should be with us, with no ambiguity.If we trust – what we say is the truth, and what we believe is right,then there is nothing to be given away, whatever be the cost. Jai Hind. Tagda Raho…

  2. Excellent analysis. A must read for all decision makers, military, political, diplomatic and who ever matters

  3. Most of the sane analysts and ordinary soldiers like me are articulating or thinking the same. Its a QED situation and whatever TRPs any channel might be wanting, I think this government has enough sane minds and professional Chiefs who will be aligned to your thoughts. From a Chinese bluff, it is becoming a Chinese parody be it in Ladakh or the SAS waters.

  4. A balanced and encouraging article. We are better placed and We shouldn't hurry.

  5. Shanker, we are really very happy to see such a plain speaking article. This has shown clearly the China bluff for the last 20 years on our border. The way forward is to stay and hold our position in strength as we have always held in Sachin. I am sure it will require 10 times more will power and motivation to stay in place for the digital PLA.

  6. The Chinese are masters in the art of deception….and somehow I get the feeling that we have mastered the art of falling for it. If we do ever vacate the heights that have a commanding overview of the PLA, we can say goodbye to those positions forever. A very forthright assessment.,.I sincerely hope that the people who matter also read it and not dismiss it as yet another assessment by a retired General…..!!!!

  7. Bang on.. you have covered all the elements brilliantly. We should stay put and keep talking.. India should not talk disengagement and keep strengthening Quad and similar such arrangements.

  8. Excellent piece. Entirely agree with the author. We must derive advantage of the favourable situation that we have created. It must not be permitted to be solved as a local border issue and instead we must put on the table the entire India-China border problem. Where is the hurry for us? Let it take a couple of winters more. It is well worth it. We must not let go of this golden opportunity that we ourselves have created.

  9. By standing up to the Chinese bully we have shown to the world that we are no push overs. We will be foolish to squander that new found respect by falling prey to Chinese deceitful proposal. We should not accept anything less than a settlement that is equitable and that is clearly delineated on a map as LAC.Harbhajnik

  10. GHey genral its essential to be suspicious of Chinese at alltimes,the UNSC is completing 75years within 10months and China with top priority is blocking India,they see us as compititors and a asian for,let's understand the meaning of this and act accordingly.

  11. General Ravi – this is well analysed. I have read your earlier articles too. It is time you are called to the National Policy Group and weed out worn out thinkers. Look forward to such happening.

  12. I endorse your views fully You have put it out very clearly.Rajagopal

  13. Well analysed Sir. I hope your caution is paid heed to by decision makers.

  14. One correction, Sir. Jaichand was actually not a traitor. See this video and you will get to know the corrected version of our History

  15. But, now we've vacated Kailash range and you've accepted it in your Feb 28 article as a good trade.

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