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Vijay Gokhale: China’s assumption that India won’t respond to coercion at LAC is wrong

Former Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale says the Chinese assumption that there won’t be any immediate backlash to low-level coercion on the Line of Actual Control “because India is risk-averse” may not be valid at the moment when details of a new clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.

Former Indian ambassador to China Gokhale wrote in “A Historical Evaluation of China’s India Policy: Lessons for India-China Relations”, published by Carnegie India, that the 2020 Galwan incident changed public perception of China.

We’ve redefined strategic restraint. As a result, the political class has changed their risk-taking appetite, and

In August 2020, Snow Leopard counter-operations were conducted at Rezang La/Rechin La. India escalated intentionally, and China wasn’t expecting it. In other words, China’s assumption that there won’t be any immediate backlash to low-level coercion on the LAC based on India’s risk aversion may not be valid anymore,” he wrote in the Carnegie India paper published Tuesday.

China’s leaders are right to assume that the Indian-US relationship won’t become an alliance, but it’s still worth considering if China can miscalculate after the Ladakh standoff. The Chinese assumptions that India won’t escalate militarily in response to low-level coercion and that it won’t form alliances against the coercer should be weighed against the changes in Indian strategic thinking since 2020.”

He said that China’s role in India’s strategic circles has clarified from the ambiguity that prevailed earlier. People don’t give China the benefit of the doubt now because it’s perceived as adversarial.

According to Gokhale, Chinese scholars also need to rethink the idea that Indian responses to military coercion will be low indefinitely in the future. In preparation for armed coexistence along the LaC, India is now more willing and committed to enhancing military capacity. “Judging India’s future behavior and responses based on current capacity may not be valid.”

He also warned China that the geopolitical backlash is going to get worse.


Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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