PM Modi reviews situation amid LAC tensions

PM Modi reviews situation amid LAC tensions

 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping leave after a group picture during BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Benaulim. Credit: Reuters Photo

Amid rising border tensions between India and China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reviewed the developments, while Beijing warned New Delhi that the situation might turn more intense than the 2017 Doklam face-off if the Indian Army was not reined in.

India has asked Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to restore the status quo to defuse tension along the disputed boundary between the two nations in eastern Ladakh. But so far, there has been no headway in de-escalating the situation even though diplomats from both sides are in touch. 

On Tuesday, Modi met with his National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, R K Mathur. He reviewed the situation on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh, where troop build-up by both the Indian Army and Chinese PLA has continued along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — the de facto border between the two nations.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also had a separate meeting with top military officials. Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and 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 present in the meeting with Defence Minister.

Sources told DH that both sides were still exploring the possibility of talks between Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi over phone to avert further escalation.

Doval and Wang are currently designated as the Special Representatives of India and China respectively to lead the negotiation to resolve the boundary dispute.

China deployed nearly 5,000 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 Indian territory in at least three or four nearby locations. The Indian Army, too, rushed in additional troops as a countermeasure, but none of its soldiers transgressed the LAC to enter the Chinese territory.

New Delhi has 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. 

Chinese daily warns India

Meanwhile, 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. The paper also said the situation along the LAC might even “exceed” in “intensity” the 72-day-long face-off at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan in June-August, 2017.     

“Some Indians believe slowed Chinese economy 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, president of Chengdu Institute of World Affairs, wrote in an article for the paper.

“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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