Sino-India War In Galwan Valley: Chinese Smartphone Manufactures Are the Biggest Losers

A full-scale India-China war looks unlikely however the last time India and China engaged in a conventional war was in 1962 over the same Himalayan region where at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed recently, writes the CNN.

An India-China war today is far different from that was fought in 1962. Conventional wisdom has it that China holds a massive military advantage over India, but recent studies from the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston and the Center for a New American Security in Washington suggest that India maintains an edge in high-altitude mountainous warfare over China.

Nuclear weapons: India vs China

No one expects the fresh clashes to explode into nuclear war, but the fact that both China and India have become nuclear powers since their previous conflict cannot be overlooked when evaluating the balance of power.

Data released by the (SIRPI) assess that China has roughly 320 nuclear warheads — more than double India’s 150. Both nations have seen their armouries grow in the past year, Beijing’s by 40 warheads and New Delhi’s by 10, according to SIRPI.

Both nuclear-armed nations maintain a triad of delivery systems — missiles, bombers and submarines. Both nations have also vowed to a “no first use” policy, however, meaning they’ve pledged only to use nuclear arms in retaliation to a nuclear attack on their county

India-China War: Air forces

India has about 139,576 active personnel, 270 fighters and 68 ground-attack aircraft which New Delhi can use to counter China according to a study published in March by the Belfer Center. India also maintains a series of small air bases near the Chinese border from which it can stage and supply those aircraft, the Belfer study claimed.

China, by contrast, has 398,000 active personnel 5,200+ military aircraft Approx. 2,755 to 3,010+ fighter, bomber and attack aircraft and a large fleet of ground-attack drones in the region. The PLAAF uses eight bases in the region, but most of those are civilian airfields at challenging altitudes, the study suggests.

The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel,” the study claims.

Aerial refuelling could give the Chinese planes additional payload and combat time, but the PLAAF doesn’t have adequate aerial tankers for the job. The Belfor study also gives the Indian Air Force (IAF), with its Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30 jets, a qualitative edge in the region, where China fields J-10, J-11 and Su-27 fighters.

According to an October 2019 report from the Center for a New American Security. “To weather a potential People’s Liberation Army (PLA) attack, India has placed greater emphasis on infrastructure hardening; base resiliency; redundant command, control, and communications systems; and improved air defense,” the report claims.

The Belfer study indicated that China, facing perceived intimidation from the US on its eastern and southern flanks, has boosted its bases there and neglected near the Indian border, leaving at least four PLA airbases exposed.

“Indian destruction or incapacitation of some of the four above airbases would further increase these PLAAF operational inflexibilities and weaknesses,” it claims. The Belfer report gives the edge to India’s air force in one other area — experience.

Recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat,” it says. Lacking such experience, Chinese pilots may have difficulty thinking for themselves in a dynamic aerial battlefield, according to the Belfer report.

India-China War: Ground forces

While India has the experience in the air, the CNAS report says it is also extremely well trained on the ground, battling in places like Kashmir and in encounters along its border with Pakistan.

“India is by far the more experienced and battle-hardened side, having fought a series of limited and low-intensity conflicts in its recent past,” the CNAS report says. “The PLA, on the other hand, has not experienced the crucible of combat since its conflict with Vietnam in 1979.”

 After month-long border war, driven by China in reaction to Vietnam’s military intercession in Cambodia, is largely considered a defeat for China. The PLA had difficulty making gains against Vietnamese troops that were smaller in number but immensely more trained after battling US forces during the Vietnam War.

Belfer estimates there are about 225,000 Indian ground forces near the border, as border as well as 200,000 to 230,000 Chinese troops at the same border. The figures may be confusing. Counted among those PLA forces are units assigned to keep down any chance of rebellion in Xinjiang or Tibet, or deal with any possible friction along China’s border with Russia.

Moving them to the Indian front in the event of large-scale clashes presents a logistical dilemma, as Indian airstrikes could target high-speed rail lines on the Tibetan plateau or chokepoints in the rugged terrain near the border. “By contrast, Indian troops are already largely in position,” the report says.

CNAS report adds that those Indian troops operate in rough terrain in steep valleys and can’t be easily deployed to counter transgressions that any Chinese aggression might make. In short, the Indian troops too could be vulnerable to Chinese artillery and missile attacks on choke points in the mountains.

Those attacks could come by Chinese artillery or missiles placed on the Tibetan plateau, which in some cases look right down on Indian border posts, the CNAS report says. But the issue is whether, in the event of large-scale battle, China has sufficient missiles to take out all the targets it would need to hit in India.

The Belfer study quotes the evaluations of a former Indian Air Force officer, who predicts that China would need 220 ballistic missiles to knock out one Indian airfield for a day. With only 1,000 to 1,200 missiles available for the task, China would quickly run out of missiles to shut down India’s airfields, it says

One area where China may be having an edge is the technology and new weapons. With a larger defense budget and quickly modernizing defense forces, Beijing can’t be counted out to close any gaps in its forces.

“China’s economy is five times the size of India’s and Beijing’s defense budget far surpasses New Delhi’s defense budget by a factor of four to one,” said Nishank Motwani, an international adviser at the National Center for Dialogue and Progress in Afghanistan. “The power differential between China and India is in Beijing’s favor and this asymmetry is only widening.”

Chinese state media has recently been heavy on articles and videos of new weaponry being stationed to its Tibetan region for drills, including the Type 15 light tank and the new 155-millimetre vehicle-mounted howitzer. Both were introduced leat year in a military parade in Beijing.

“The weapons were specially designed with advantages for plateau regions and can play significant roles in safeguarding border areas,” military experts told the state-sponsored Global Times.  The Chinese outlet on Tuesday — after the encounter with Indian troops the night before — mentioned the new weapons in a report on war games in the mountainous region.

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These kinds of drills demonstrated the PLA’s capability to win a regional, high-elevation conflict in its early stages by decisively eradicating the hostile headquarters and commanders, a PLA veteran who was once deployed in Tibet and asked not to be named told the Global Times,” the report said.

India-China War: Allies

In a possible India-China war, China could be largely on its battle against India, New Delhi, on the other hand, has been developing defense ties with countries wary of Beijing as a rising military power. India has grown closer to the US military in recent years, with Washington calling India a “major defense partner” while increasing bi- and multilateral training.

In the event of an India-Chin war, US intelligence and surveillance could help New Delhi get a clearer picture of the battlefield. The Belfer report uses the example of what might happen if China was to surge troops from its interior to the front lines in the mountains.

Such a Chinese surge would also attract attention from the United States, which would alert India and enable it to counter-mobilize its own additional forces from its interior,” it says.

India participates in joint military exercises with countries like the US, Japan, France and Australia. “Western troops participating in such war games and exercises regularly have revealed a grudging admiration for their Indian counterparts’ tactical creativity and a high degree of adaptability,” the CNAS report says.

Such a Chinese surge would also attract attention from the United States, which would alert India and enable it to counter-mobilize its own additional forces from its interior,” it says.

India participates in joint military exercises with countries like the US, Japan, France and Australia. “Western troops participating in such war games and exercises regularly have revealed a grudging admiration for their Indian counterparts’ tactical creativity and a high degree of adaptability,” the CNAS report says. Any full-scale war with India will result in retaliation by US, France and Australia imposing sanctions on China.

COVID19 Shrinked Economy of Countries

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had not only brought the global economy to a standstill but set the clock backwards on the developmental progress of several nations. While the rate of infection in India did not appear to be as high as in other countries, precautionary measures adopted dealt a severe blow to the country’s major industries- with finance, real estate & professional services bearing the largest brunt at an estimated loss of 17.3 percent.

The growth rate of the automotive business in India was expected to be the most adversely affected followed by the power supply and IT sectors. Furthermore, many startups, small and medium enterprises in India expected to face issues of supply disruption and a decrease in demand. The effects of aid from the Narendra Modi-led government was, until April, arguably deemed inadequate in the face of a faltering economy.

China, once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, appears to be turning a corner. As the number of reported local transmission cases hovers near zero, daily life is slowly returning to normal. However, economic data from the first two months of the year shows the damage done to the country’s finances.

Today’s visualization outlines the sharp losses China’s economy has experienced, and how this may foreshadow what’s to come for countries currently in the early stages of the outbreak.

China business analysts Gavekal Dragonomics say that two thirds of people are back in workplaces, but most still can’t obtain door-to-door deliveries, only half have visited a shopping mall this month, and all must still quarantine if travelling beyond their city of residence, and again on return.

Chinese Gross Domestic Product fell 6.8% in the first quarter. The IMF is forecasting a recovery only to 1.2% growth for all 2020. Exports – which comprise about 18% of GDP – are expected to fall by up to half in the first quarter, and industrial profits by 25% in the first half.

And Chinese financial institutions, led by China Development Bank and China Export-Import Bank, have provided massive capital for Belt and Road Initiative projects, funded almost entirely by loans. The capacity to repay – certainly, within the schedule agreed – must now surely come under question, thereby limiting such institutions’ future stimulus roles.

Economic Impact of Sino-India War

As tensions simmer at the border between India and China, what is more concerning is the economic fall out of the souring relationship between the two countries. This is because the economic interdependence of the two neighbours is too deep to be ignored. 

China and the US are the largest two trading partners of India. While Indian exports to the US outnumber the imports from the country, the same is not true when it comes to China. And hence, to become friends-turned-foes with India would have business repercussions in China, too. 

As per a Brookings India report, the total amount of current and planned Chinese investment in India has crossed $26 billion (around Rs 1,98,000 crore). China-based companies are also stepping up their investments in Indian companies, including startups, the report said.

China’s Xiaomi leads the India smartphone market with 30 per cent market share, followed by Vivo, Samsung, Realme and Oppo.

To be sure, several large Chinese companies spanning handsets, electronic devices and internet firms are deeply invested in India’s consumer market where a fast growing middle-class and an aspirational young consumer base has helped propel the growth for companies such as Xiaomi Corp, BBK Electronics that owns brands such as Oppo, Vivo, among others; apart from electronics goods company TCL. India’s emergence as the biggest overseas market for Chinese mobile phone companies is one of the most significant developments in China’s relations with India over the past five years. The India sales of those top Chinese smartphone brands totaled more than $16 billion in 2019, according to IDC.

The Chinese smartphone makers have already built factories and created jobs in India. Interestingly, these smartphone makers have embraced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” programme. Xiaomi locally manufactures 95 per cent of the phones it sells in India. And hence, any adverse announcements forcing Chinese businesses to shut shop in India will add to the burgeoning unemployment rates in India. 

While it is widely perceived that India might be most impacted economically in case of a conflict with China, the latter, too, will lose a significant and perhaps, one of the most easily accessible markets. Hence, China will stand as much to lose as India.   

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