Indian soldiers learning Chinese language (Mandarin) has not gone down too well with security experts in Beijing who fear the added skill set could prove to be a tactical advantage in case there are skirmishes in the future.
In February, news agency PTI reported that a group of 25 jawans and officials of the ITBP will take up a one-year certificate course in the Chinese language at the Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies in Madhya Pradesh’s Raisen district. While India maintains that this could help minimise chances of misunderstandings in border areas, several security experts in China are a little jittery.
While they agree that miscommunication may be prevented if Indian troops learn their language, they also warn of consequences in case of skirmishes or war. “Language ability can boost communication in peacetime, but in wartime, it is a weapon,” Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told China’s state-controlled Global Times. “India could come up with effective and targeted strategies once their troops can correctly grasp what their Chinese counterparts mean during war.”
Song Zhongping, a military expert, went a step further and warned that India could seize control of border areas during any confrontation and even during calmer times, monitor Chinese movement better through any intercepted message. Many of them have even suggested in the past that Chinese troops need to learn Hindi.
This undercurrent of flayed nerves among security experts and analysts in China is indicative of the fact that while peace indeed prevails on the Sino-India border currently, memories of the Doklam faceoff several months back are still fresh. And while India remains committed to co-operation with the Chinese in numerous fields, the possibility of ‘what if’ still echoes on the other side of the border.