It requires all the skills of a warrior to state his point of view and negotiate a positive outcome of the dialogue between the two delegations duly supported by the Foreign Ministry officials of respective countries.
Lt Col Manoj K Channan
The Indo-China standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) continues as workable and pragmatic solutions are discussed to de-escalate and pull back troops. Past meetings have stretched over 15 hours and these marathon discussions require a lot of patience and tenacity. It requires all the skills of a warrior to state his point of view and negotiate a positive outcome of the dialogue between the two delegations duly supported by the Foreign Ministry officials of respective countries.
The focus areas are Gogra, Hot Springs and the Depsang Plains, where the de-escalation is desirable and mandatory to keep the Line of Actual Control peaceful.
The outcome should be positive as India and China remain committed to the peaceful resolution of the border dispute. The Chinese continue to “give an inch and take a mile” policy as the LAC is porous and in inhospitable terrain.
The COAS General Manoj Mukund Narvane, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC recently visited forward locations in Eastern Ladakh and reviewed the Military preparedness.
CCP/PLA is in no hurry to resolve the border issue and has been developing infrastructure to remain deployed. This would be the second year that troops will remain deployed, which more or less is a permanent deployment along the Line of Control with Pakistan.
The intrusions continued by the PLA in the Central and Eastern Sector, which was contested by the Indian Army leading to the apprehension and subsequent release of PLA troops in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Chinese social media too circulated propaganda videos of the Galwan Clashes last year in a quick move to play down the clashes in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Chinese are engaged globally and with India on different fronts to include diplomatic and economic fronts in addition to the military confrontation.
The PLA is jousting for the time while in a planned manner it routinely carries out intrusions at a place of its choosing.
Developments in PLA Western Theatre Command
The Western Theatre Command (WTC) is the largest of China’s five Theatre Commands and exercises operational jurisdiction over China’s borders with India and Afghanistan.
The CCP/PLA leadership has been paying special attention to its WTC. The importance to WTC has been brought at par with the Eastern Theatre Command, which is ranked first. This means that WTC will receive PRIORITY for the deployment of new weapons systems in the PLA inventory.
The other indicators are postings of new officers to the WTC, high-level visits, enhanced and qualitatively different exercises by PLA forces deployed in the Xinjiang and Tibet Military Regions. It is well understood that physical occupation and denial is difficult, yet not impossible as technology solutions need to be incorporated and the ability to deploy troops in the area of ingression, has to be addressed.
Developments along the Line of Actual Control Eastern Sector – India.
In a recent interview, the Eastern Army commander had covered the extensive development/renovation of infrastructure to include rail, roads, tunnels (through hills and below the surface), airfields, advance landing grounds, habitat for troops as well as surveillance grid to thwart the PLA attempts. The synergy has been developed top-down in the Eastern Air Command and Army’s Eastern Command to the unit level for Operational Readiness.
The completion of Raising of the Mountain Strike Corps in the Eastern Sector has given a limited offensive capability. Similar capability/capacity building is being undertaken in the Ladakh region as well as Sikkim.
ITBP is examining a proposal for additional recruitment of locals along the LAC to man forty-seven border outposts (BOPs). Currently, there are 180 such posts each with a strength of 140 personnel. The sanction for additional personnel was accorded by the Government in 2020. This will assist in better management and rotation of troops.
Indo US bilateral 2+2 dialogue of foreign and defence ministers in Washington later this year.
Wendy Sherman, US Deputy Secretary of State, who was recently in New Delhi, stated, “We will compete with China where we should, cooperate with China where it’s in our interests. We will challenge China where we must – where it undermines interests of ours, and our partners and allies, or threatens rules-based international order. The US and India are like-minded in this regard.”
QUAD countries will do the second round of the four-nation Malabar exercise from October 12 in the Bay of Bengal. Malabar first phase was six weeks ago off Guam.
Economic sanctions by moving supply chains of critical medicines, minerals and superconductors away from China, will have a significant impact. These are to be discussed at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) later this month.
India and the US are closely monitoring the evolving situation in Afghanistan, the developments at the UN, continued cooperation under the Quad for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
Internal Dynamics – China
There are reports of power shortage and its impact on the Chinese manufacturing capabilities. The overall energy crisis as well as opposition to Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power on the CCP – PLA needs to be watched. The fissures in this power struggle have ensured that the Chinese President has made no foreign visit in the last two years, any foreign visit shortly is unlikely. The summit with Joe Biden later this year will be virtual.
Likely Outcome of Talks
The talks would have been held in a conducive environment and some leeway is likely to be expected in the Hot Springs area. Demchok and Depsang bulge will be kept on the back burner for further negotiations, in the days ahead.
“It is the mailed fist behind the folded hands which ensures peace essential for successfully engaging in trade and commerce.”
China wants to segregate discussions with India on the border issues and its competition with the US on various issues separately. The Chinese are imposing delays in the delivery of raw materials to the Indian manufacturing companies. The credit line has been closed and payments are in advance which has adversely affected the turnover of MSMEs.
In the last two years, the political leadership of India and China at the PM and President Level has not taken place.
India remains highly dependent on China for its manufacturing. The Chinese have aggressively taken major stakes/bought out mines thus impacting the commercial activities.
The days ahead will remain uncertain as the power struggle continues on many fronts between QUAD/AUKUS with China. The reset button is dependent on Xi Jinping’s ability to quell any threat to his leadership internally and coming to an agreement in the days ahead with the Joe Biden administration.
India needs to build its capabilities with a steadfast resoluteness.
“Between capability and intent of an adversary, it is realistic to keep an eye on its capability building. The intent is nebulous to discern and can change overnight, capability building takes time and is also easy to monitor”
(The author is an Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official)