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India is sensitive to China but will not allow changes in any border sector – analysis


At the 2019 informal summit between India and China in Mamallapuram, on the outskirts of Chennai, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping decided to celebrate the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations in 2020 by deepening exchanges to all levels, between legislatures. , political parties, cultural and youth organizations, including the military of the two countries. The two leaders also decided to organize 70 activities, including a conference on a ship that would trace the historical connection between the two civilizations.

No one expected the rosy diplomatic image to become as bleak as it has been now, with the spread of the coronavirus being reported for the first time since Wuhan, ironically the site of the 2018 informal summit between India and China, and with clouds of war raging in eastern Ladakh This happened within seven months of the Mamallapuram meeting, which saw the reiteration of a desire for peace and tranquility in the border areas and a commitment to work on additional confidence-building measures (CBM). Today, however, the Indian Army faces two aggressive Combined Arms Brigades from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso patrol points along the Current Control Line (LAC) of 3,488 kilometers long.

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In May, PLA activated LAC for the first time in the Naku La area in northern Sikkim and then at three points in Galwan and one point in Pangong Tso. While the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman has said that the situation in Ladakh is “stable and controllable,” this appears to be an understatement, as the two armies are literally in each other’s throats. This fragile situation does not bode well for bilateral relations. It has already activated the normally inactive LAC, forcing India to deploy troops to the northern border and prepare for the worst case scenario. As much as India’s detractors wanted to remind him of the 1962 border skirmish with China, the fact remains that even the EPL would have to move troops from within to protect their own territory if the red flag goes up. As of now, China has 76 and 77 group armies (about 45,000 men) along with a choice of six to eight divisions of troops from Tibet and the Xinjiang Military District that hold the Western Theater Command against India. With India rapidly increasing levels of force in eastern Ladakh, it will be only a matter of time before the EPL calls for reinforcements from within if the status quo ante is not restored.

Since India’s communication lines and air bases are closer to LAC, the scenario may not favor PLA. For example, your Russian copy fighters will suffer a severe cargo penalty if they take off from the rarefied Tibetan plateau. The EPL has already lost the element of surprise after days of fighting, and the next question the Chinese generals will face would be whether their troops can force a decisive victory. The PLA generals, who have studied the Kargil war more seriously than anyone, know that the Indian army can and will fight against all odds. Despite the fact that China is now shaking sabers at the border, it also knows that India has a very strong leader in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has not named China for spreading the Covid-19 virus, kept a studied silence on the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang, did not comment on draconian laws in Hong Kong, and remained silent while others have lobbied for observer status for Taiwan at the World Health Organization.

By openly favoring direct dialogue with China on the border issue, India has also kept its ally, the United States, at bay as it does not believe in scripts and fiercely protects its strategic independence. Prime Minister Modi’s move to restrict foreign direct investment from neighboring countries, a move clearly aimed at China, shows that India has the capacity and the ability to react. But it is also not catalysing resentment against China at the behest of the Trump administration. The fact is that it is Beijing, which is using neighbors like Pakistan and, more recently, Nepal to project its dominance on the Indian subcontinent and beyond. The argument that the Ladakh confrontation is the result of the Modi government abrogating Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir is invalid as nothing less than Foreign Minister S Jaishankar flew to Beijing last August to assure China that India was not raising any additional territory. claim in disputed areas in the region. By taking an aggressive stance on the border, China has added insult to injury as Beijing has barely addressed India’s demand to reduce the trade deficit, which stood at $ 51.68 billion between January and November 2019 before that the pandemic hit the world.

Still, with both leaders previously pledging not to turn bilateral differences into disputes, it would be in the interest of both sides to withdraw to their respective base camps in eastern Ladakh, as there is no way for India to allow China to make unilateral changes. . in any of the sectors. The Modi government will also not be pressured by China in its legitimate upgrade of the border infrastructure, which is happening within its own territory. After 21 rounds of unproductive Special Representative Dialogue on solving the boundary problem, it is time for the two sides to exchange at least maps of the western and eastern sector so that the two armies know each other’s positions on the ground. The two leaders must keep their communication channels open, since both their bureaucracies and their armies carry enormous historical baggage and cannot think beyond protecting their silos. The direct channel will take on greater importance as the Dalai Lama’s succession is on the horizon and China is expected to present its own candidate as it did in the case of the Panchen Lama. The two most populous nations in the world, the countries with the world’s first and second largest armies, cannot be adversaries forever.

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The opinions expressed are personal.

Hindustan Times