How China and India Matchup Militarily if the Border War Escalates

China and India had a border skirmish which resulted in 20 deaths on the India side and maybe 43 on the China side. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has various maps and analysis of the situation. Indian experts have disputed the ASPI analysis. It is a highly mountainous terrain bordering China-Tibet, India and near Pakistan. It would be very bad for a major fight to break out between two countries with nuclear weapons and near a third country with nuclear weapons.

China is putting about 1000 soldiers into the area and has built 500 trenches and fortifications. The IISS reports China has three border-defence companies based close in Aksai Chin. Two are drawn from the 362nd Border Regiment and are located at Fort Khurnak on the north bank of Pangong Lake and at Spanggur Lake to the south. The third is located at the Kongka Pass near the Indian post at Gogra/Hot Springs and belongs to the 363rd Border Regiment. There is also a patrol boat squadron on Pangong Lake itself. These units are about 500–600 personnel. Additional forces – drawn from one or both of their parent Border Defence Regiments’ operational reserves – have also been deployed to the area, raising the total PLA border forces in the area to 1,000–1,500 personnel. In addition to the border forces, the PLA Army has mobilized additional conventional combat forces, most likely from the 6th Mechanised Division.

By the end of May, companies of main battle tanks and batteries of towed artillery had been deployed at existing Chinese positions north and east of Gogra.

Ten actual T15 mountain tanks and about a dozen artillery pieces with 2-3 miles of the disputed zone. China has another tank company at the Kongka pass. The garrison at Kongka pass is ten miles away.

China had between 1,200 and 1,500 personnel in the immediate vicinity of the LAC, with around 5,000 more diverted to the region in support.

In response to the initial clashes, India has reinforced the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and rotational army units in its forward positions along the LAC with additional army personnel from the 3rd Infantry Division. Elements of the division’s 81st Mountain Brigade and 114th Infantry Brigade have reportedly been brought forward from their regular cantonments in the valley between Durbuk and Tangtse, with additional units being brought into theater to replace these mobilized forces as an operational reserve.

India reinforced the region with 12,000 additional workers who would help with completing the development of Indian infrastructure. The first train with over 1,600 workers left Jharkhand on 14 June 2020 for Udhampur, from where they will go on to assist India’s Border Roads Organisation at the Sino-Indian border. Experts theorize the standoffs are Chinese pre-emptive measures in responding to the Darbuk–Shyok–DBO Road infrastructure project in Ladakh.

China has sent or sending Type 15 tanks, J-16 multirole fighters, Z-20 helicopter, GJ-2 attack drone and PCL-181 advanced vehicle-mounted howitzer to the Tibetan plateau.

The Norinco Type 15 was first deployed in 2011. The 33-ton tank weighs around half as much as a typical main battle tank. It has a 105-millimeter gun rather than the 120- or 125-millimeter cannons used in heavier tanks. This light build makes it more suitable for high-altitude operations. There were reports that China planned to procure up to 300 ZTQ-15s. China has 1200 light tanks. China had a total of about 6,900 main battle tanks in 2019.

The wheeled PCL-181 with its 155-millimeter gun likewise weighs just 25 tons, many tons less than what a tracked howitzer weighs.

China has a total of about 250,000 soldiers in the Indian border area. The Observer Research Foundation think tank in New Delhi, said India had fewer than 225,000 troops along the border. Experts at MIT, estimate China has 230,000 to 250,000 troops in its Western Theatre Command (WTC). The PLA joint WTC command includes Tibet and Xinjiang.

There were usually fewer than 40,000 Chinese army troops at the border, but reinforcements could be sent from the neighboring provinces of Qinghai and Gansu, or even Xinjiang and Sichuan as required.

India has logistical and infrastructure difficulties actually getting their 225,000 troops to the mountain areas.

There is a CNN report analysis which cites some study by a former Indian air officer that claims that India could win a larger border war with China. Nextbigfuture does not find the CNN cited analysis as credible.

India has about 3000 main battle tanks but most are about 30-40 years old.

In 2019 the Beijing–Tibet Expressway expressway was completed between Beijing and Golmud. The section between Nagqu and Lhasa has begun construction. The mountainous section between Golmud and Nagqu is not yet shown on maps.

China Built Roads and Rail and Will Have a 100 MPH Rail Connection by 2021

In June 2020, China completed part of an important railway bridge on the Yarlung Tsangpo. This is part of Beijing’s 435-km railway project linking Lhasa and Nyingchi in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The construction work on the last two of the 47 tunnels on the 435-km railway was completed. Tibet’s first electric railway has a designed speed of 160 km per hour (100 mph). 75% of the Lhasa-Nyingchi railway comprises bridge and tunnels and 90% of the railway line is on the Tibetan plateau at over 3,000 meters or more than 15,000 feet above sea level. The rail should be fully operational in 2021.

$1.69 Billion Data Center

China’s Ningsuan Technologies is building a $1.69 billion data center in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. In 2018, Alibaba has skin in the game as well. In 2018, Alibaba agreed with Ningsuan to bring cloud services to industries in the Tibetan region that span electricity supply, finance, national security, government affairs, public security and cyberspace. The data center should be completed in 2025 or 2026.

SOURCES- Wikipedia, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Techcrunch, IISS, SCMP, BBC, CNN
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com