Beijing has issued its formal reaction to widespread reports that the Indian Army has authorized "complete freedom of action" for its troops deployed along the China-India Line of Actual Control after the deadly June 15 skirmish which left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unconfirmed scores of PLA troop casualties.
The new Indian rules of engagement of course mean a much higher likelihood of more deadly border conflict, given Beijing is likely to alert its forces in kind. An editorial in Chinese state-run Global Times lays out the Chinese response, underscoring the "change" will inevitably "turn into a military conflict" which is "not what most Chinese and Indian people wish to see," according to the editorial.
"If this new approach is implemented and Indian troops shoot Chinese soldiers in the first place in future encounters, then the China-India border dispute will turn into a military conflict. This is not what most Chinese and Indian people wish to see," it reads.
The editorial warns the potential for a dangerous end to China-India bilateral agreements for deescalation hangs in the balance. It slams what it suggests is in reality a reckless domestic opinion driven response, given the widespread outrage in India over the troop deaths last week.
The Global Times statement continues:
Although "complete freedom of action" is the Modi administration's appeasement to the Indian army and public opinion, it is extremely irresponsible. It shows that India may be tearing up the two countries' most important agreements, and this will seriously increase the two troops' mutual distrust and add to the possibility of unwanted military conflicts. It is also against the consensus reached by the two sides' foreign ministers to cool down the situation in the Galwan Valley.
We would like to warn India's feverish nationalists not to lead New Delhi down the wrong path, and not allow India to repeat past mistakes.
Significantly, the editorial emphasizes the PLA's superior firepower and that if tested it will respond with overwhelming force.
"We would like to tell PLA soldiers stationed at the China-India border that they must be extra careful when fulfilling their duties, and to be well prepared for war."
Nationalists of India need to cool down. China’s GDP is 5 times that of India, military spending is 3 times. Don’t use firearms at border. The gap of “kung fu” between the two troops is much smaller than the gap of military capability between them. Please cherish peace.— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) June 22, 2020
GT spells out further what will happen in a 'shots fired' scenario: "If the Indian army fires the first shot, PLA soldiers must ensure that they have enough firepower to fight back. The most important thing is ensure their own safety and not to suffer losses in an armed skirmish triggered by the Indian side."
The editorial concludes with the following deeply alarming statement:
"We also urge the PLA to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If the Indian army launches a border war, it must be taught a good lesson."
Indian media reported that Indian army along the border with China had been given “complete freedom of action”, including using firearms in “extraordinary situations.” If true, this is a serious violation of agreement, & the Indian side will pay a heavy price for any such action. pic.twitter.com/ukmIZIX9Mp— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) June 21, 2020
According to India's new rules of engagement circulated in Indian media reports, troops will essentially be able to fire on opposing Chinese soliders if they feel under threat without consulting higher level officers or the national chain of command.
Obviously this holds the potential for more such deadly escalations as happened a week ago, considered the most severe Chinese-India clash along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in a half-century.