Indian Army to seek help of other countries to counter rising China: Army Chief

Indian Army to seek help of other countries to counter rising China: Army Chief

NEW DELHI - India had to intervene in Bhutanese territory in Doklam as China was trying to change the status quo by constructing a road, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said on Friday.

He called for a multi-pronged approach to deal with an assertive China that includes diplomatic, military and partnerships with other countries in the region, The Hindu has reported.

“We understand China is a powerful country, but we are not a weak nation… Dealing with China is a whole of government approach. Diplomatic engagement with China is happening well… Focus has to shift to the northern borders, for too long we have focused on the western borders. We should start preparing for the next kind of warfare, which are cyber and space,” Gen Rawat said at a press conference ahead of Army Day.

Gen Rawat called for consistent focus on the neighbourhood as part of building partnerships with like-minded countries.

“We are not getting into alliances but we are seeking support of other group of nations in the region so that we are not isolated against an assertive China. We are looking at diplomatic, military and partnering with countries in the region. We cannot let our neighbourhood drift away from us,” he observed.

Gen Rawat said China had been constructing roads in north Doklam for many years and last June they came with large amount of equipment and soldiers, forcing India to intervene on behalf of Bhutan. He said as India intervened in the territory of another country, the Ministry of External Affairs was made the sole spokesperson to avoid confusion.

“Our impression was they looked like changing the status quo. With China we have an agreement to not change status quo... This was a change of status quo by bringing the road down, so we intervened,” he said.

''The troop strength has gone down recently either due to winter or because they wanted to de-escalate.Tents and observation posts remain, a lot of which are temporary structures. We have seen a reduction in manpower. They may come back here after winter or somewhere else. Should they come again, we will see what to do,” he stated.

Gen. Rawat stressed on the border mechanisms for resolving any issues on the ground and pointed out that diplomatic efforts, and border demarcation talks between Bhutan and China were on.

On the issue of capping tuition fees for children of disabled soldiers and those killed in the line of duty, Gen Rawat said the Army would set up premier educational institutions to educate them.

He said that as some people were misusing the facility, the government decided to impose a cap of ₹ 10,000 a year for a student. However, as some genuine students were being affected by this, Army proposed a new framework to continue the policy.

“We got in principle sanction for such schools… It will take 3-4 years. I am confident this problem will soon be overcome. Till then those genuinely affected we will take care of them. One school will come up in Pathankot, where there is a large military fraternity, and the other in Bhopal or Secunderabad,” he added.