Potential Steps Of Escalation Ladder In Indo-China Confrontation

Raj Malhotra

Regular Member
Aug 13, 2009
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Potential Steps Of Escalation Ladder In Indo-China Confrontation

As we all are aware that Indo-China relations have entered into a phase of serious confrontation since last three months. Various options have been discussed in Media as well as by Think-tank Experts about the possible steps that can be taken by India on this issue. One of the major problem is that, we have not developed a proper “Escalation ladder” in order to tackle China as part of our Geo-political strategy. We are afflicted by “Vasudeva Kutumbakam” and presume that if we don’t want war then no-one else does. 1962, 1965, 1967, 1986, 1999, 2002 Wars, Incidents have all been non-lessons. Anyway, I have tried to develop a suggested “Escalation ladder” for confrontation with China.

Step 1

Economic Sanctions

A. We must increase import tariffs on
all Chinese goods and services to maximum WTO (permitted) rate of 40%. Thereafter these import tariffs can be further escalated to 100%. It may be noted that under Article 21 of WTO Exempts all actions based on security concerns are exempt. Therefore, we can impose import tariffs not only on ordinary goods and services but also on Information Technology Goods (covered by IT treaty).

The present method of “only” imposing non-tariff barriers, will increase corruption without commensurate benefit in revenue generation.

“Essential Goods” – If certain goods are essential then they can be imported at lower tariffs through canalising agency like STC.

There is an apprehension that China will restrict the export of certain medical APIs to India. The answer to this problem is very simple that China cannot restrict the exports of any medical supplies because we can set up shell companies in International Trade Hubs to re-route such exports. Such re-routing export companies can be set up in Dubai, Singapore, Taiwan, Malta, Cyprus, Channel Islands etc.

Another issue that is raised is that China may re-route its own exports to India from FTA countries like Vietnam, Malaysia etc. This problem can be largely reduced by insisting upon documents of Origin i.e. Origin Certificate. Further, if re-routing problems become serious then import tariffs can be imposed upon FTA countries also. All FTA Agreements have clauses for termination, safeguard duty, anti-dumping duty, Origin Certificate etc.

Imposing such import tariffs will create financial space for Indian Industries to grow as they will be protected from dumping of cheap Chinese goods.

Import tariffs will also generate tax revenue which can be used for creating infrastructure for industrial growth.

Most of Chinese imports are non-essential consumer goods. Imposition of import tariffs will not effect poor people but in fact, benefit them by job creation.

It will also divert some of our imports to more friendly nations with whom we can develop better Economic exchange unlike almost one sided imports from China

Further, non-import barriers and restrictions which are already in contemplation should also be imposed.

B. Complete Restriction on Chinese Apps

All Chinese Apps, Software or any Data based service should be banned with one month notice.

Any Company or individual who depends on any essential Chinese Software Service (like our Telecom Companies) should seek Government license which can be given for a short period with proper safeguards. And after expiry it should only be renewed if the user demonstrates Genuine attempt of substitution.

C. Restriction on Investments

All Chinese Investments in India should be banned and prohibited. A direction should be issued that any Investment should be unloaded within three months.

In normal course, such direction would cause concern in the International Investment Community but today China is the exception and nobody would be really bothered and in fact, such a decision may be welcomed and admired.

Also it will save our Cos from being overwhelmed by Chinese Companies setting up base in India who are using Cheap Capital & Sub-assemblies from India.

D. Withdraw recognition to Chinese Patents, Designs and Copyrights

Aim of a war is to destroy and cause damage to the enemy. In modern economy, it is not essential to use bombs to damage the economy of the enemy. China has invested massive amount of money in Research & Development and has registered numerous Patents, Designs and Copyrights.

We should withdraw our recognition given to any Chinese Patent, Design and Copyright and allow Indian Companies to disregard such IPR rights and manufacture any goods or software.

Normally, the international community will be extremely concerned with such a step but today there is no love lost for China. In fact, it will be giving sweet justice to the international business community which has suffered massive threat of Intellectual Property rights due to activities of China.

India unfortunately (but fortunately in this case) does not have equivalent amount of IPR Rights which can be stolen by China. In any case, China has never hesitated from stealing IPR Rights whether it belongs to India or anyone else. So, let’s return the favour.

E. Restrictions on Visits by Chinese

We should restrict visits by Chinese seeking business opportunities in India. Further, it is well-known that lot of Chinese companies have abused business visas to send hundreds of workers into India. We should put an end to this practice.

We should also restrict & Control visits of Indians who may be subverted by China.

We should end social, cultural exchanges like Confucius Institutes

We should end Ban all advertisement of Goods & services made in China or by Chinese Goods. This will remove the hold of Chinese Companies on our Media buy use of Advertisement Budget

Step 2 (Subsequent of Concurrent)

Military Escalation

We are in extremely weak negotiating position because China believes that we do not have any military options. This mental freeze has been created by various military experts for whom any military action will spiral immediately into nuclear war. But the military actions of 1967 with China and 1999 with Pakistan clearly show that there is adequate scope for military action even under nuclear overhang.

There is also a problem with preparation by our military. They are neither prepared or equipped for a quick war nor geared up for a prolonged war. Be as it may, we have to see the options available to us within the present situation.

A. Direct the military to confront the Chinese soldiers without using firearms but remove the restriction on preventing any serious hurt or killing. In fact, it will be a replay of Galwan Valley confrontation which seems to be a well thought out retaliation by India in revenge for killing of Col. Babu.

We can use the same methods all across the border at all confrontation points. The troops will have to be equipped with protective gear and will have to battle with sharp-edged weapons like swords, spears, axes etc.

Though it seems medieval but it is as effective as using firearms.

Having said this, it goes without saying that an military action even without firearms has to be done keeping in mind that the enemy may escalate further.
Though It will place the onus of further escalation on China while simultaneously preventing China from declaring status quo on newly occupied areas.

B. Using Artillery and Machine Guns

The next step of escalation should be to use Artillery, Machine Guns and Sniper Weapons against the Chinese troops. In order to prevent sudden escalation, it should not be accompanied by any attempt to physically occupy additional territory. The whole idea is to impose costs on the Chinese troops who are holding Indian Territory.

No doubt, China will also retaliate in the same manner. This is somewhat equivalent to Indo-China confrontation in 1967. Such artillery barrage will also prevent China from consolidating their hold and claiming status quo of occupation.

As above, It will place the onus of further escalation on China while simultaneously preventing China from declaring status quo on newly occupied areas.

C. Limited Naval Action

If China has used its advantage to occupy Indian territory then we should return the principal with interest through Naval action at Malacca straits. We should sink/capture limited Chinese Flag ships in that area to keep the water boiling.

D. Localized War

The next step in the Escalation Ladder would be to declare localized war in a limited region. For instance, we can declare localized war up to 50 km. depth from Indian perception of LAC in Northern Indo-China border. In this area, apart from aforesaid military weapons like Artillery, Machine Guns, Sniper Weapons, we can authorize use of Air Force Aircrafts and Drones.

Any public declaration of limited conflict will place the onus on China whether they want to escalate the war to new areas or they want to keep the confrontation limited. It will place the onus of escalation on China while simultaneously preventing China from declaring status quo on newly occupied areas. Evidently, it will also increase the cost for China to continue holding the newly occupied areas.

In order to reduce the chances of sudden escalation, we should restrain ourselves from direct attack by ground troops on any Chinese post i.e. to say that we should not try to take over any ground which is presently held by China unless it is vacated by withdrawal of troops.

But we should try to improve our ground position by taking over areas which are not held by China in order to create a bargaining position for swap up of land.

E. Further Escalation Step would be to attack Chinese positions and posts and to physically try and evict Chinese troops from the Chinese areas which they have occupied after April, 2020 using ground troops & armour.

We can still try to control un-anticipated escalation by making public declaration that our aim is to restore status quo ante as on April, 2020. We should clearly define the ground positions which have been occupied by China so that not only the Chinese but the community is aware about our aims of war.

F. Next Escalation Step would be to remove the limitation on the area and depth of attacks by IAF & Navy. That would mean that IAF would try to attack Chinese Airfields, Roads, Bridges, Railways, Fuel and Ammunition Depots, Communication and Command Centres in depth.

Navy would also try to hit all Chinese ships and targets on Indian side of Malacca Straits while opening negotiations with ASEAN nations for basing rights to hit Chinese Eastern Coast.

Geo-politically, we will have to open negotiations with USA to use our Pacts for logistical support.

We can still try to control escalation by making public declaration that our aim is to restore status as on April, 2020. We should clearly define the ground positions which have been occupied by China so that not only the Chinese but the community is aware about our aims of war.

This will not only create trip wire for sudden uncontrolled unanticipated escalation but also put the onus on China for any all-out war.

G. All-out war without going Nuclear

The aforesaid escalation ladder can only be climbed while preparing for the potential of all-out war. But “preparation” for an all-out war should not be confused with the “paralysing fear” of such a war which prevents us from taking any action at out.


Senior Member
Jan 19, 2011
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You have written quite a detailed post OP. That should be the correct escalation ladder.
My two bits
1. Trade Embargo (ongoing)
2. Naval blockade (we are 3-6 months away from this if situations persist)
3. Targeted military actions, focused on the bones of contention
4. Military alliance with countries like Japan and USA who have the capability to sweep up the SCS.
We can take care of the IOR region along with USA.

And the most important step, the absolutely necessary step
0. Create a rift between China and Russia.

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