History of India and China’s War
China and India have had several clashes in the past, going back to the 1960s. As much as most of these clashes were short-term, the lives lost created serious tensions between these two countries.
The Indo-China war, also known as the Sino-India War, was the first major conflict between them. The border conflict occurred in 1962, and it was a result of the disputed Himalayan border. The war, which started in October 1962, lasted for a month only in Aksai Chin, and the Chinese emerged winners.
In 1967, there was another series of border clashes between China and India in Sikkim. The Nathu La and Cho La war clashes started in September 1967 and lasted for a month. 83 people are estimated to have died during this war, and more than 163 were wounded.
In 1987, China and India also engaged in another skirmish resulting from military conflicts. This standoff lasted for a year, and it took place in the Sumdorong Chu Valley.
This standoff ended with the status quo of both countries being maintained, and thereafter the Indian prime minister was invited to Beijing.
Today Friction Points and Current Risks of Escalations
In May 2020, China and India got into another conflict that resulted in border clashes. The Skirmishes that happened in the Line of Actual Control along the Sino-Indian border clashes resulted in both sides’ casualties.
While there have been numerous diplomatic and military talks between India and China, border tensions are still high, with the clashes continuing.
It should be noted that Chinese and Indian forces engaged each other at the disputed Himalayan border. This is after China accused India of severe military provocation that forced it to “react” as a countermeasure. However, India was quick to reject such allegations.
For the first time in 45 years, shots were fired along the border. Political analysts claim that there has been a growing power imbalance between these two countries, which could be the main cause of the current dispute.
Competition between India and China
China and India are some of the most populous countries in the world. They are also highly competitive, but the two Asian counterparts have always had a formal relationship. China’s GDP is currently around $12.23 trillion, while India’s GDP stands at $2.65.
But despite their good economic and trade relations, China has been gaining a competitive advantage over the years thanks to its global ties.
When it comes to the army and the military force, these two countries are next to each other in global rankings. However, the recent 2020 clashes might indicate a foreseeable difference. With the rising tension across the Line of Actual Control, it’s clear that both countries are keen to establish military control along with this point. But how does the Indian army compare to its Chinese Counterpart?
India Army Vs China Army: Comparison Overview
Comparing the Indian army vs China’s army, who is the heavyweight? Well, both armies from these two countries fare differently in terms of nuclear power, missiles, budget, technology, and personnel.
When it comes to spending, both china’s and India’s army are among the top three. As of December of 2020, China had military spending of $261 billion, coming in second after the US. On the other hand, India came in 3rd with military spending of $71.1 billion.
India spent much of its money on protecting itself from terrorists. It invested in counter potential threats arising from its neighbors China and Pakistan. A huge chunk of its budget was also set aside to cater to the army salaries and pensions, leaving very little to be invested in military technology and the purchase of the latest weapons.
China’s military spending can be attributed to accumulated spending that involved restructuring and modernization of its army. Much of the money was used in research, implementation of new weapons, and this resulted in a reduction in the number of army personnel.
According to military defense reports, the total nuclear arsenal that both China and India have is enough to destroy the world several times. It’s extensive and highly damaging. Nuclear power features highly reactive fissionable compounds hence its use has always been moderated, following the devastating effects of the Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl disasters.
India’s nuclear weapon
As of 2020, India had a total of 22 nuclear reactors that were in operation in addition to 7 nuclear power plants. Besides that, this country has 150 nuclear warheads. While this country isn’t a member of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, it still applies the “no first use” policy.
China’s nuclear power
China is classified as the 3rd biggest producer of nuclear power globally. It has a total of 50 operating reactors. It should be noted that it has more nuclear warheads than India. As of 2020, it had 320, but the number of its deployed bombs is still unknown.
Armies need aviation in order to carry supplies, hauling troops, and even carry out quick long-distance strategic strikes. Besides that, army helicopters are important in leading war operations and commanding flight platoons.
This country has the Army Aviation Corps that was founded in 1986. Its operating capacity features almost 160 aircraft, and it plays the following roles:
- Assault duties plus anti-tack warfare
- Liaison and reconnaissance
- Tactical air transport
- Disaster relief
Its notable fleet includes the Cheetah, Chetak, and HAL Dhruv liaison/ utility helicopters. India also has HAL Rudra helicopters for attacks.
China has the People’s Liberation Army Air Force that was first established in 1949. As of 2020, the air force had more than 395,000 active personnel in addition to more than 3370 aircraft. Its most notable operations include:
- Z-10 and Z-9WA attack helicopters
- Harbin Z-19 attack/reconnaissance helicopter
- Shaanxy Y-9 and Y-9 military transport aircraft
Naval missions involve training, maintaining, and equipping the naval forces to anticipate possible enemy aggression and wars on water bodies, including seas and oceans. By numbers, China is outrightly far ahead.
- Total Naval: 214
- Corvettes: 24
- Submarines: 15
- Destroyers: 11
- Frigates: 15
- Aircraft carriers: 2
- Total Naval: 780
- Corvettes: 42
- Submarines: 76
- Destroyers: 36
- Frigates: 54
- Aircraft carriers: 2
Missiles are effective in warfare since they normally operate above the atmosphere. They also use direct collisions facilitated by infrared-homing, resulting in hit-and-kill trajectory vehicles that can effectively destroy the enemy’s camp.
In terms of missile technology comparison, China is one of the three countries with hypersonic missile technology. On the other hand, India has also successfully tested its hypersonic technology.
India’s armored vehicles
Its inventory includes battle tanks such as:
- T-90 and
The standard service rifle used by the Indian army is the INSAS. The country also has guided missiles with an anti-tank design featuring BMP Series.
China’s armored vehicles
China’s PLAGF has an advanced missile inventory featuring armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, towed artillery systems, light tanks, surface-to-air launching systems, and rocket launch systems among others.
Its tank force includes:
- Type 15 light tank
- Type 96
- Type 96B MTB
- Type 99
- Type 99A
Its armored vehicle fleet includes assault vehicles such as:
- ZBD-09 IFV
Its anti-aircraft and field artillery systems include:
Tracked howitzers such as:
Multiple rocket launcher: PHL-03
Mortars: PP-89 and PP-87
Over the last few months, India has been conducting several trials regarding its Prithvi-1 ballistic missile than has a 150 km range in addition to Prithvi-2 that has a 250 km range. On the other hand, China has also been conducting several ballistic missile tests, and they range from short-range to advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles.
These are the members of the state’s armed forces. They play different roles depending on the military task as well as branch rank.
As of 2020, India had around 1.1 volunteer army troops while more than 2.1 million were in reserve.
By 2020, China’s army had around 2.3 million troops on active duty while over 2.3 million troops were in reserve.
As of 2020, global rankings indicated that China had the biggest active military force. India, alongside other countries such as the US and Russia, was in the top 5 as well.
Technology in war involves the development of harmful and high-precision arms that can quickly take down the enemy. It could be communication coordination, sensors to detect enemy advancement and targets, transportation, and guided weaponry, among others.
India’s military technology is quite advanced, but it can’t match China’s army’s superiority. The latest news indicates that India is working with Russia to develop the 5th-gen Sukhoi fighter with similar functionalities to America’s powerhouse, F-22.
In addition to that, India has more than 230 self-propelled artillery systems in addition to more than 4,000 towed-artillery systems. Besides that, it has around 270 rocket launchers.
China has solely focused on improving its home-grown military advancements. Its F-35 is by far much better than India’s MiG-21s. Besides that, China also has the J-20, one of the most powerful fighter aircraft globally.
It should be noted that China has over 3,800 self-propelled artillery systems in addition to more than 3,600 towed-artillery systems.
Some countries are considered “allies” when it comes to war. Both China and India have military alliances to amplify their army’s voices in case of war and violence.
The Indian army doesn’t have any major military alliance. However, it’s known to have close military relationships with other major powers including France, Israel, Russian Federation, the US, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
China and Russia have been long known to have a military alliance. However, they upgraded it in 2017, and the two countries decided to collaborate to create modern anti-missile and air defense systems.
There is also the Sino-North Korean Mutual-Aid & Cooperation-Friendship Treaty that was first signed in 1961. The defense treaty which involves China and North Korea is the only military-based treaty that North Korea has
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, also known as the Shanghai Pact, was announced in 2001. It’s a Eurasian economic, political, and security alliance that involves the leaders of China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Are these two countries competitively close to each other when it comes to space warfare?
India’s Defence Space Agency (DSA) was launched in 2019 to enhance its space warfare capabilities. DSA’s capabilities include the anti-satellite capability.
But even bore that, India still had a notable space program that has a serious focus on various aspects of the military. However, the latest launch was designed to improve its geopolitical face.
Global trends and the need to change its security environment means that a military space focus will help enhance its security and promote quality communication between different security ranks in the armed forces. This agency is headed by the Air Force’s vice-marshal and will feature a staff of more than 200 personnel.
India has been able to launch GSAT-6, a military satellite, as well as GSAT-7A. The country also launched EMISAT for its armed forces in 2019.
China created its space force before India in 2015. However, it formally established it in 2019. China’s attempt to militarize its space was due to the need to modernize its military power.
The country has a more advanced space system than India, featuring thirty Bei-Dou satellites designed to orbit in space. They are designed to facilitate:
- Short message communication
- Location reporting
- Rapid positioning
- Real-time navigation
- Precise timing
China understands that military power is essential in global politics, and that is why it’s pushing for various space services. Generally, china’s military space capabilities have been consistently growing over the years, and it’s quite impressive. It typically corresponds to the Chinese power in global politics, and it has had a significant impact in the Indo-Pacific areas. Therefore, India must analyze China’s advancing space capabilities to address its gaps in space design and vulnerabilities.
War Simulation between India Army vs China Army – What’s the Possible Scenario?
If China and India decided to go to war, what’s the most likely scenario that could happen? Well, in 1962, the Chinese captured Subedar Dashrath Sigh after taking an AK-47 magazine in his stomach. However, he was saved by a Chinese military nurse.
While Indian soldiers tried hard to fight the Chinese, they lost it. There’s no doubt that this affected the Indian army’s psyche, and as a result, it has been upgrading its army to boost its warfare capabilities.
These two Asian giants have clashed multiple times. For instance, a Tibet incident happened in 1967, the Arunachal incident in 1987, and other smaller incidents in Ladakh that happened in 2013 and 2014. So, if these two countries were to fight right now, who would win? Well, several factors have to be considered.
If China and India were to take matters into their own hands and decided to fight over their borders, who will be more likely to win? We need to understand that these two countries share an extremely high border. Well, it’s almost as high as the Himalayas, and this means that either of them can’t grab the border outrightly.
There’s a significant difference between the army of both countries, and this is a crucial determinant in helping one country advance and take over the disputed provinces along the border.
In this scenario, India stands a better chance. This country has an army with experience and their war handling tactics on the ground have been consistently enhanced by India’s tradition of always defending its borders.
It should be noted that India also borders Pakistan, a country that has been destroyed by terrorism. However, its army has successfully protected its borders from Pakistani terrorism over the past couple of decades.
The last time that India was involved in a serious war is probably in 1999. But over the years, this country has been upgrading its paramilitary to handle special operations effectively.
On the other hand, China is always insinuating that it’s ready to fight with other countries. However, the last real war that they had was with Vietnam. This happened in 1979. The war also lasted less than four weeks and both China and Vietnam claimed victory.
The Chinese 1979 war with Vietnam happened because they wanted to punish Vietnam, which was part of the Soviet sphere. To prove to the world that USSR isn’t a true ally, they sought to punish Vietnam. However, the latter only effectively repelled the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by using border militias. That sounded like an easy case to Vietnam.
It’s impossible to ignore PLA’s growth over the years and its technological advancements. But has this army been able to engage in “notable” war successfully? The truth is that PLA’s technology hasn’t been adequately put into use since the war with Korea.
But India needs to trade carefully nevertheless. This is because China has a ballistic missile force that can easily find its way inside India’s territory.
Number of troops
These two countries have some of the biggest populations globally. They are also powerhouses economically. The GDP ranking in 2020 indicates that China ranks 2nd globally with a GDP of $12.23 trillion while India is 5th with a GDP of $2.65 trillion.
In terms of ranking by military strength, the Military Strength of Nations 2020 indicates that China has the 3rd most powerful military power index while India comes in close at the 4th position.
China’s army has around 2.3 million troops who are active while about 2.3 million troops are in reserve. Meanwhile, India has around 1.1 volunteer army troops while 2.1 million are in reserve.
Based on these two factors, China definitely has the upper hand. Economically, it’s a powerhouse, and by the active military troop numbers and those in reserve, it’s more likely to win a war.
Technology is an important aspect of designing different warfare accessories. Even though India can’t match China’s technology, they are not far apart in terms of superiority.
India, together with Russia, is developing its 5th-gen Sukhoi fighter. It’s expected to have similar capabilities to America’s F-22.
On the other hand, China has a powerful home-grown F-35 that can easily surpass the capability of India’s MiG-21s. It’s worth noting that China’s J-20 is top-rated for its air superiority.
But these two countries have almost similar groups of aircraft carriers. But a comprehensive analysis indicates that India can’t still match the technological capabilities of china’s aircraft carriers.
India doesn’t stand a chance when it comes to submarines. China is far ahead, and it would take India so many years to craft submarines that match China’s current capabilities. It should be noted that China has twice more military aircraft and warships than India. It also has 5 times more submarines than India.
India’s only advantage is the closeness to the water. China’s merchant marines still need to navigate close to the Indian waters. So, if India wanted to protect its borders, then the Chinese ships would have to divert further.
Well, India would still lose. China has a comprehensive stockpile of powerful ballistic missiles. This is worsened because some of the major cities in India are located close to the Chinese border. China definitely doesn’t need long-range ballistic missiles to carry out serious attacks.
On the other hand, India doesn’t have notable ballistic missiles. In addition to that, there are very few major Chinese cities that are close to the Indian border. This would mean that India has to work hard and target further into China’s territory if it’s to destroy any of its major cities.
Note: both China and India have the “no first use” nuclear policy, so the possibility of nuclear attacks is almost impossible.
India Army vs China Army: How Will the Simulated War End?
While India has several layers of anti-missile and anti-air defenses, China is a powerhouse with a great army that can effectively handle India on air, land, and sea. These two countries are both economic powerhouses with millions of active armies.
India’s geography and experience in handling war and terrorism would make it challenging for China to win this war outrightly, even though it has the upper hand. So, it’s unpredictable to state a winner since both countries are not easily conquerable.