The South China Morning Post (June 27) said hawkish Chinese military strategists have called on Beijing to be better prepared for an escalation in its border dispute with India, saying the potential for armed conflict between the two nuclear powers is on the rise. It claimed a number of retired PLA officers are calling for Beijing to prepare for further escalation, including granting its frontline troops more power to respond to an “intrusion” by Indian forces and deploying non-lethal hi-tech weapons such as laser guns along the border. Retired PLAAF Major General Qiao Liang and author of the book 'Unrestricted Warfare' posted on his WeChat account that while the possibility of an all-out war between the two countries remained low, China needed to prepare for an escalation into an armed conflict. He said “We should not overestimate India’s response, but we must also not let our guard down.” He said China must “take the initiative” in case of a more serious military conflict along the border. Qiao Liang added “If we must fight a war, we must strike quickly and contain the scale in a small and mid-sized war aimed at causing pain to our opponents and hence gaining respect via small wars.” Such a victory, he said, would project China’s power to the United States and pro-independence forces in Taiwan. In an article in Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Chinese journal covering defence industries and technologies, Chinese naval expert and retired PLA Navy officer Wang Yunfei said “[We should] strengthen surveillance along the border region and in case of a transgression by the Indian Army into the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control, we will counter-attack resolutely and such an attack should not be bound by the Line of Actual Control … until we have completely forced the Indian army into retreat.” He added “The Indian Army has repeatedly transgressed the border and destroyed Chinese camps, roads and other military facilities. If that happens again, the Chinese side should use more forceful measures to destroy the opposing side’s facilities and equipment” and that Chinese troops should prepare to deploy non-lethal weapons such as lasers, tear gas and stun grenades after reports that India had changed its rules of engagement in the area. If the situation escalated despite last week’s military and diplomatic talks, he said China should make preparation for a possible military conflict a higher priority than further diplomacy.

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