Following the deadly clashes between the Indian and Chinese soldiers at the Galwan Valley, there is a growing perception that behind China’s assertiveness, lies an increasing power differential between Beijing and New Delhi. While this line of reasoning is correct, it masks the means through which China has managed to amass such hard military power.
It is the difference between the comprehensive military reforms carried out in China under President Xi Jinping and the rather shallow ones under Prime Minister Narendra Modi that explains why China today feels confident to deploy forces across multiple fronts at the LAC, and demonstrate the kind of aggression not seen since the 1960s.
Since coming to power in 2012, Xi Jinping has managed to usher in large-scale military modernisation and fundamentally transform the organisational structure and governance of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In comparison, the military reforms carried out under PM Modi have not only been meagre, but Indian military has also seen the gulf between its intent and capabilities widen like never before. Under Xi, the Chinese military has grown substantially more powerful than its Indian counterpart.