India-China to continue military dialogue, expectations low on outcomes today

Mar 11, 2022 08:16 AM IST

The military commanders of India and China are meeting at Chushul for the 15th round of talks to disengage and de-escalate the military posture in East Ladakh.

The Indian military and diplomatic establishment have low expectations of a positive outcome from the 15th round of India-China military commanders meeting at Chushul to resolve the nearly two-year-old stand-off in East Ladakh. The military escalation along the 1597 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) was sparked off after the PLA decided to unilaterally change the ground positions between Galwan Valley and north of Pangong Tso lake in May 2020.

The Indian Army and PLA commanders will meet at Border Personnel Meeting point in Chushul today.
The Indian Army and PLA commanders will meet at Border Personnel Meeting point in Chushul today.

With the PLA dragging its feet in fully restoring the April 2020 status quo ante by still holding on to forward position at Gogra-Hot Springs area (general location patrolling point 15 near Kongka La), the Indian Army is on an alert mode to repel any more Chinese aggression in the area. While the Indian Army has legacy patrolling rights issues in Depsang Bulge and Charding Nullah Junction in Demchok, it is quite evident that the PLA is in no mood to budge from their stated positions.

Despite the low expectations, it is understood that the two sides have decided to keep up the military channels open so that any possibility of an accident is ruled out as the two armies are fully deployed in the area. Since May 2020, no less than 50,000 troops and support elements like armour, artillery and rocket regiments have been deployed on both sides of the LAC with de-escalation far away in the horizon as even the disengagement has not been completed by the PLA in Kong Ka La area.

At a time when Russia is bombarding Ukraine and capturing territory in East Europe, Beijing wants to appear more reasonable with its adversaries and wants to continue the dialogue. Despite the long-winded statements made by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to resolve friction between two armies, the PLA has upgraded the military infrastructure all along the LAC and posed a threat to the Indian Army. The Chinese leadership in their bid to further consolidate the hold of Beijing on Tibet and Xinjiang have built new roads north of Ladakh with the objective to further expand their hold on Pakistan in the name of CPEC.

The interesting part is that the Narendra Modi government is not taken in by homilies of the Chinese leadership on pitching the US as the common enemy for creating friction between the two rising powers in Asia. The national security planners are wary of China as all the written and signed bilateral border peace agreements were thrown into the dustbin by the PLA when it transgressed into Galwan and north of Pangong Tso lake in May 2020 with the sole objective of imposing the rejected 1960 line on the Ladakh LAC.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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