Renowned international affairs commentator Meghnad Desai in an interview predicted that a war could break out within a month between India and China. Desai's comment comes at a time when both nations are exchanging heated rhetoric in regard to the ongoing standoff in Doklam, which lies at the tri-junction region of Bhutan, China and India.
"Even today, nobody is contemplating that the whole Doklam thing could break anytime. We could be in a full-scale war with China within a month. At that stage it will not be controllable. It may come as a surprise, but that is when the defence co-operation of India (with various countries) will bear fruit," Desai told IANS in an interview.
Meanwhile, a leading state-run Chinese daily has reported that Beijing might use a small-scale military offensive against India to end the Doklam standoff.
Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on August 5 that China is prepared for a small war to assert its position in Doklam.
Hu has come to his conclusion based on the recent statements issued by Chinese officials in China and India.
Hu also said that the objective of this “war” could be to either “expel” Indian troops from Doklam or capture them.
Of Indian-origin, but UK-based, Desai, who is also a Labour Peer in the British House of Lords, observed that if a war is to break out in the two theatres, it will see the United States and India on one side and China on the other. He added that the fate of the ongoing Doklam standoff would largely depend upon events in the South China Sea.
Desai did not consider the Doklam standoff a mere India-China issue but rather equated it to the geo-political tensions across the globe, primarily in the South China Sea. When again asked if a war is really likely to break out, the Padma Bhushan awardee said, "I cannot say what day or date but I think at this time it is very likely that we will be in a state of full-scale war with China very soon. And mind you, on several fronts, not just Doklam. It is just one frontier, they will start from all places, across the northern Himalayas,"
Regarding the US' reaction in case there is a war between India and China and whether Washington would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with India, Desai said, "Absolutely".
"Ultimately, you have to understand that India cannot stand up to China without American help and support. The US cannot stand up to China without Indian help. That is the symmetry in this relationship," he added.
In New Delhi, Sushma Swaraj, the minister for external affairs, told Parliament India was concerned about China's actions affecting the tri-junction boundary point between Bhutan, China and India as well as the India-China border.
She said India would "keep engaging with China to resolve the dispute."
"War is not a solution to anything," Swaraj said. "Patience, control on comments and diplomacy can resolve problems."
Most previous standoffs, such as one in 2014 just ahead of a rare trip to India for President Xi Jinping, were resolved with both sides withdrawing their forces.
There has been no shooting since a brief border war in 1962.