Will China restore April 2020 status quo in East Ladakh in July talks?

Published on Jun 25, 2022 03:49 PM IST

China wants the Modi government not to hinge the entire bilateral ties on the resolution of the boundary issue while New Delhi expects a forward movement in the forthcoming military commanders dialogue

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wirth Indian ambassador to China Pradeep Kumar Rawat.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wirth Indian ambassador to China Pradeep Kumar Rawat.

After a successful 14th BRICS summit, all eyes are on the 16th India-China senior military commanders meeting next month to roll back the May 2020 PLA transgression on critical patrolling point 15 near Khugrang Nullah, a tributary of Shyok river, in the East Ladakh sector.

Negotiations on restoring the status quo on Khugrang Nullah sector, which lies between the shortest route from Gogra-Hot Springs to Galwan Valley, has been stuck since August 2021 with the PLA refusing to move back a section of its troops forwardly deployed on this point.

China has been giving mixed signals to India with Foreign Minister Wang Yi calling for peaceful resolution of the border issue in his meeting with Pradeep Rawat, Indian Ambassador to Beijing, on June 22. The 50-minute meeting took place after China had blocked the designation of Lashkar-e-Toiba’s second in command Abdul Rehman Makki as UN global terrorist under UNSC resolution 1267. Makki, a close relative of Hafiz Saeed, is a LeT ideologue and an India hater and is responsible for Islamic jihad in Kashmir Valley.

While India expects a forward movement in the forthcoming military commanders dialogue, China wants the Modi government not to hinge the entire bilateral ties on the resolution of the boundary issue. However, New Delhi through its Ambassador made it clear to Minister Wang Yi that maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is the key to normalization of bilateral ties with restoration of April 2020 status quo in East Ladakh central to normalcy in ties.

Even as India is firm on the restoration of status quo in East Ladakh, it is worried about the fallout of the severe economic crisis in Sri Lanka and Pakistan with China a substantial contributor to external debt of these two Indian neighbors. More than 10 per cent of Sri Lanka’s external debt is owed to China and some 27.4 per cent of Pakistan external debt is owed to Beijing. Despite China entrapping these two countries in debt trap by building white elephant infrastructure, Beijing has rather been quiet in helping its clients in South Asia. This is in sharp contrast to India, which has openly come out in support of falling Sri Lankan economy by pumping in close to USD five billion. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are today negotiating with IMF to get loans for both importing fuel and foodstuffs.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    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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