The internal drivers of China’s Ladakh offensive

  • IASbaba
  • October 3, 2020
  • 0
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Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • India and its neighborhood- relations. 
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas 

The internal drivers of China’s Ladakh offensive

Context: The India-China standoff in Ladakh persists even after multiple rounds of commander-level talks and two ministerial meetings between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries.

India-China border Clashes during May – To read more about it, Click here

What exactly is the controversy about Galwan Valley? – Click Here

Factors leading to escalation and strategic implication of dispute – Read here

Do You Know?

  • In the late 1950s, when China first transgressed into Aksai Chin, the then Chinese premier, Zhou Enlai made a proposal to accept India’s hold over Arunachal Pradesh (then called North East Frontier Agency) in return for Chinese control over Aksai Chin. 
  • This region of Ladakh was critical to China to shield its turbulent periphery of Tibet and Xinjiang

What has prompted China to get aggressive about Aksai Chin in recent months?

  • Union Home minister stated in Parliament, in September 2019, after changing the status of Ladakh and J&K to Union Territories, “Kashmir is an integral part of India. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it”
  • The above statement was viewed by many as India’s intent to recapture Aksai Chin
  • China strongly questioned this statement and has refused to endorse the new status of Jammu and Kashmir

Internal drivers of Chinese Ladakh Offensive

1. To Increase Military Presence in Tibet

  • President Xi has made a strong policy move on Tibet, asking for developing a “new socialist Tibet”, where its Buddhism must conform to the “Chinese context”. 
  • This, in Xi’s approach, would be done by taking the Tibetans away from the Dalai Lama, changing their Lamaistic religious and social practices, and integrating them closely and ethnically with mainstream China.
  • This approach aims to control Tibet in three principal ways. 
    • One, to cut off its external linkages and deflect international pressure on Tibet
    • Two, change its demographic composition, 
    • Three, institutionalise mass surveillance.
  • Ladakh offensive will help in increasing military presence in Tibet. The projection of a so-called Indian military threat will help in mobilization of Chinese troops in Tibet & surrounding areas and thus their repression.
  • The standoff is thus in China’s internal political interests of stability in Tibet

2. Silencing Domestic Critics

  • Ladakh Standoff has been woven into China’s resurgent territorial nationalism. The local media plays up the idea that India is too weak to stand against China’s might. 
  • Xi is also using the Ladakh standoff in his internal political campaign of silencing critics who are cautioning him against hostility towards India and other neighbours, while the principal challenge is to confront the US.


The internal political dynamics needs be decoupled from the Ladakh standoff through a summit meeting between Modi and Xi.

Connecting the dots:

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