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India-China border stand-off


The 13th round of the India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on October 10, 2021. During the meeting, the discussions between the two sides focused on resolving the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. The Indian side pointed out that the situation along the LAC had been caused by unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter the status quo and in violation of the bilateral agreements. Therefore, the Chinese side needed to take appropriate steps in the remaining areas to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector. Peace at borders would also be as per the guidance provided by the two Foreign Ministers in their recent meeting in Dushanbe, where they had agreed that the two sides should resolve the remaining issues at the earliest. The Indian side emphasised that such resolution of the remaining areas would facilitate progress in the bilateral relations. During the meeting, the Indian side made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas, but the Chinese side was not agreeable and could not provide any forward-looking proposals. The meeting thus did not result in the resolution of the remaining areas.

The two sides have agreed to maintain communications and also to maintain stability on the ground. We expect the Chinese side to consider the overall perspective of bilateral relations and work towards early resolution of the remaining issues while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols. (PIB, New Delhi, Oct11, 2021).

The Himalayas have become the most dangerous flashpoint in the Indo-Pacific. More than 17 months following China’s border aggression, India’s patience is wearing thin, with China using talks to consolidate its land grabs. For the first time, India calls out China’s intransigence. (Brahma Chellaney).

Indeed tough times are ahead, but heartening to see the Indian Army exhibit firm negotiating skills to match its positioning on the ground. These talks were held in the background of two latest incidents along the Line of Actual Control: One Chinese troops transgressed in the Barahoti sector of Uttrakhand and the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh. China did not like this and rattling in the war tone.

Tensions between India and China has been very high following a deadly border skirmish in June 2020 in the strategically important Galwan river valley in Ladakh. The world’s two most important and nuclearised nations poured tens of thousands of troops into the high-altitude region of the Himalayan region and facing eyeball to eyeball.

China’s threat to India.

On various platforms, it has been echoed that China has been a significant source of concern for India’s national security architecture since the 1962 war.  However, in reality, the threat to India emanated from the Chinese even before 1962; it goes back to 1949 when China became a complete communist country.  There are no signs of these concerns abating soon.  China not only poses a danger to India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity but is also determined to obstruct India’s rise as a substantial power. China thinks that India is the only country that can counter China’s rise other than the US.

So far, India considered Pakistan the biggest threat to India, but after the Galwan episode and changing geopolitical situation, China is emerging as the biggest threat to India. Instead, the collusive China-Pakistan military threat is a real possibility. The Chinese intrusions in Ladakh in May 2020 and the deadlock in negotiations have made the Chinese military threat more apparent and actual. However, some media reports had indicated that Pakistan had moved troops into Gilgit-Baltistan, matching the Chinese deployments in Eastern Ladakh.

The Sino-Pakistan relationship is nothing new, but it has far profound implications today than perhaps ever before. China has always looked at Pakistan as a counter to India’s influence in South Asia. China, through its chequebook diplomacy, wants to exercise this hegemony over the South-Asian neighbours. In this pursuit, China would want to drain India’s economic resources on the border confrontation. Thus, a two-front war scenario can be a strategy by China to undermine India’s role in its neighbourhood.

How can India cope up with Chinese threats?

India has no choice but to push up its economic growth trajectory. For that to happen, India will have to encourage the private sector and undertake efforts to deliver on the dream of being a prosperous and mature economy with liberal democracy.

India’s long-delayed overhauling of the Armed Forces is now getting underway. India moves closer to the US and its allies for strengthening its defences against China. The moves to integrate the army, air force and navy — which now operate with little coordination — come as the US and UK work with Australia to put more nuclear-powered submarines in Asia-Pacific waters. A more unified Indian armed forces would make it easier for the country to link up with the US and its allies militaries in a conflict.

The time is suitable for India to demonstrate the Tibet card. India’s boundary dispute with China is fundamentally associated with Tibet. India’s acknowledgement of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet depended upon China’s acceptance of Tibetan autonomy. The Dalai Lama gave up the pursuit of independence in the bargain of genuine autonomy. Beijing has denied genuine autonomy and has not kept its side of the bargain with Tibet and India. So, India can go back on its promise and Tibeatai staying in India and abroad can go and fight for their rights.

The Chinese know that power flows out of the gun, and they have demonstrated many a time so far. Hence, India must not relinquish its nuclear weapon unless and until all the world’s nuclear powers, including China and Pakistan, abandon their resolve.

The Parliament of India should resolve that India would take back every inch of occupied territories, be it Pakistan or China.

The enhancing infrastructure along the border with China. For a very long China has been claiming the territories along the border. To counter this, it is imperative to develop our territories up to the border. This development would ensure the integrity of the local populace with India. There is also a need of strengthening the Border Road Organisations (BRO) so that projects can run without any hurdle. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs launched the Border Areas Development Project (BADP) in 1986-87 as part of a comprehensive approach to Border Management. There is a need to enhance the infrastructure along the border with China.

Conclusion

India has always had to navigate a very tough neighbourhood. However, hardly ever before has our country had to face so much concurrent, global turbulence from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan to China’s military buildup along the line of actual control. The Geostrategic risks to India are clear and present. The situation in Afghanistan is still unfolding and still shrouded in mystery. The most basic and paramount is that Afghan soil should not be used for terrorism against other countries.

At this instant, we have the PLA amassed along the LAC. We have the Pakistani army, which continues its nefarious designs along the Line of Control and Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, now we have in Afghanistan, China and Pakistan working in concert. Now, it is a tough time for India.

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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