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No Progress In India-China Military Talks: Each Side Blames The Other For The Breakdown

The military stand-off between India and China was triggered by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers crossing the LAC and taking up positions inside Indian territory in the summer of 2020.

No Progress In India-China Military Talks: Each Side Blames The Other For The Breakdown
The Chinese, it appears, took a rigid stand and there has been no forward movement on calling back troops from Patrolling Point 15, in the Hot Springs-Gogra-Kongka La area. | Representational Image
No Progress In India-China Military Talks: Each Side Blames The Other For The Breakdown
outlookindia.com
2021-10-11T17:08:51+05:30

Sunday’s conversation between Indian and Chinese military commanders did not go well. No progress was made as both sides took potshots at each other in separate statements on Monday. All this adds up to the continuing slide in ties between Asia’s two major powers.

The 13th round of India-China corps commander talks began with the hope that the two sides could work out further disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. Ahead of the talks, there was an air of optimism on the Indian side, mainly because in July a similar situation in the PP17A area near India’s Gogra area had been resolved quite easily. However, this morning’s statement dashed all such hopes. The Chinese, it appears, took a rigid stand and there has been no forward movement on calling back troops from Patrolling Point 15, in the Hot Springs-Gogra-Kongka La area.

The military stand-off between India and China was triggered by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers crossing the LAC and taking up positions inside Indian territory in the summer of 2020. A year later, the pullback from all sectors has not been completed. This has affected all aspects of bilateral ties between the two countries that once talked of together ushering in the Asian century.

It is apparent that Beijing wants the process to drag on, and to keep New Delhi guessing. It is unlikely that China wants a full-scale war with India over Ladakh or even Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing is far more concerned at the moment with Taiwan, and the need to further reinforce its ‘one China’ policy, which President Tsai Ing-wen’s government in Taiwan appears to challenge. In the backdrop are the fast deteriorating US-China relations. So, India is only one of several problems President Xi Jinping is facing at the moment.

Beijing’s plan now is not a military confrontation with India, but to rattle India as it lines up with the US, Australia and Japan to contain China in the Indo-Pacific. Though India is not in a military alliance with the US—the AUKUS (Australia, UK and US) agreement is proof of that—New Delhi and Washington have similar concerns about China’s attempt to be Asia’s No. 1 power. The US is hoping to boost India’s defence and economic might to balance China’s growing clout in Asia, much like it did to help China in the early 1970s and after to overtake the then Soviet Union.

So it is hardly surprising that the seven-and-a-half hours of conversation on Sunday between military leaders of both countries achieved nothing and triggered accusatory tit-for-tat statements. In similar statements released by the defence and external affairs ministries on Monday, New Delhi did not mince words and laid the blame squarely on the PLA. “The Indian side pointed out that the situation along the LAC had been caused by unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter the status quo and in violation of the bilateral agreements,” the statement reads. “It was, therefore, necessary that the Chinese side take appropriate steps in the remaining areas so as to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector…. During the meeting, the Indian side, therefore, made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas, but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals. The meeting thus did not result in resolution of the remaining areas.”

The Chinese, on their part, presented their version of events. The statement issued by the Western Theatre Command spokesman Colonel Long Shaohua insists that China made “great efforts to promote the easing and cooling of the border situation, and fully demonstrated its sincerity in order to maintain the overall situation of the relations between the two militaries”, but “India still insisted on the unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which made the negotiations more difficult”. The statement goes on to add: “Instead of misjudging the situation, the Indian side should cherish the hard-won situation in China-India border areas.”

The only sliver of hope is that the two sides maintained further talks will be held.

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