Ladakh situation might turn more intense, warns Beijing

Beijing warns India that Ladakh situation might turn more intense

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Even as India asked Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to restore the status quo to diffuse tension along the disputed boundary between the two nations in eastern Ladakh, Beijing warned New Delhi that the situation might turn more intense than the 2017 military face-off if the Indian Army is not reined in.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday had a meeting with his National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla and Chief of Defence Staff Gen Vipin Rawat. He reviewed the situation on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh, where the build-ups by both Indian Army and Chinese PLA continued along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border between the two neighbouring nations.

China deployed nearly 5000 additional troops on its side of the LAC near the lake, but sent smaller units, each comprising nearly 100 to 200 soldiers, across the line into the territory of India – not in one location, but in at least three or four locations nearby. The Indian Army too rushed in additional troops as counter measure, but not of its soldiers transgressed the LAC to enter the territory of China.

The chiefs of Indian Army, Air Force and Navy – Gen M M Naravane, Air Chief Marshal R K Singh Bhadauria and Admiral Karambir Singh – were also present in the meeting chaired by Prime Minister. They had earlier joined Gen Rawat to brief Defence Minister Rajnath Singh about military preparedness to respond to any external threat to the nation. 

The diplomats of the two sides have been in touch both in New Delhi and Beijing, although they could not make any headway so far. Sources told the DH that both sides were still exploring the possibility of talks between Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi over the phone to avert further escalation and resolve the situation, sources told the DH.

Doval and Wang are currently designated as the Special Representatives of India and China respectively to lead the negotiation to resolve the boundary dispute. They held the 22nd round of negotiations in New Delhi in December 2019.

New Delhi ruled out the possibility of accepting the Chinese PLA’s demand for suspension of construction of a road and a bridge closer to a forward post of the Indian Army near the Pangong Tso lake. India conveyed to China that it was building infrastructure well within its side of the LAC and would continue to do so. It rather told the communist country through diplomatic channel that the Chinese PLA should stop “activities hindering normal patrolling patterns” of the Indian Army on the bank of the lake.

China’s state-owned “Global Times” newspaper warned that if India failed to stop provocative actions by its soldiers in the area, it would have an impact on bilateral relations and the situation along the LAC might even “exceed” in “intensity” the 72-day-long face-off the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA had at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan in June-August, 2017.   

“Some Indians believe slowed Chinese economic growth and some Western countries' blame game on China provide them a great opportunity where the border issue will fall to their advantage amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Long Xingchun, the president of Chengdu Institute of World Affairs, wrote in an article on “Global Times”. “This may reflect the viewpoints of certain circles from the Indian government and military. However, this speculative mind-game is based on an incorrect judgment of the international order and China's national condition. This is flawed logic and ultimately detrimental to India.”

“Although China's relationship with the US is tense, the international environment for China is much better than it was in 1962 when India started and crushingly defeated in a border war with China,” he argued, adding: “In 1962, the national strength of China and India were comparable. Today by stark contrast, China's GDP is about five times that of India.”

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