China creating new flashpoints on border: Situation can get more serious, warn experts

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May 19, 2020 2:47 PM

The government of China has once again used the state-controlled media `The Global Times’, to accuse India of “illegal construction of defence facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region.”

india chinaborder, india china tension, covid 19, galwan valley,ladakh,aksai china, indian army, defence news, Ladakh-Tibet border, Line of Actual ControlAccording to experts India-China border of 3,488km lacks a clear demarcation acceptable to both the sides. (File photo: IE)

Amidst the global pandemic of COVID-19, China is busy creating more hotspots on daily basis and trying to create more pressure on the Indian Military. Recently the Galwan Valley near Aksai Chin in eastern Ladakh has become the new hotspot with both sides sending in additional troops along the disputed boundary.

The government of China has once again used the state-controlled media `The Global Times’, to accuse India of “illegal construction of defence facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region.” While the PLA set up 80 tents and deployment of more forces, Indian sources have clarified that though additional troops have been sent from Indian side too, there has been no transgression into the Chinese side.

According to experts India-China border of 3,488km lacks a clear demarcation acceptable to both the sides. So far there have been 22 rounds of talks on border disputes, however, a peaceful solution remains elusive.

Experts’ Views

“Standoffs between India and China are not uncommon in the Ladakh sector. In 2013, China tried to halt the construction of an Indian observation post in the Depsang Valley resulting in a three-week stalemate and also objected to the construction of an irrigation channel in Chumar in 2014,” says Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU.

“A difference of perception over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) lies behind most of the transgressions reported from both sides. There were 1,025 Chinese transgressions between 2016 to 2018, as reported in the Indian Parliament. Fortunately, cases of transgressions in the past have been resolved through hotline communication, flag meetings and other established protocols between the two armies,” observes Prof Rajan.

On May 5 this year, two sides came face to face near Pangong Lake, an area located at Ladakh-Tibet border. This lake has witnessed a number of confrontations in the last few years. Two third of this lake is controlled by China. This lake was made famous by an Indian film “3 Idiots” which was partly shot here.

In the eastern sector, the standoff at Doklam in 2017 was the fiercest in recent years. On May 9 this month, confrontations were reported from Naku La area at Sikkim-Tibet border. However, the two sides managed to defuse the standoff locally.

Sharing his views, Ranjit Kumar, a senior journalist and China watcher, says “It seems that Chinese government is once again using its mouthpiece Global Times to warn India of dire consequences if Indian forces continue with its border infrastructure activities. The latest piece in Global Times asking India to desist from advancing in so-called Chinese territory in the Galwan river area in Daulat Beg Oldie of Laddakh, reminds me of the 73-day Doklam standoff three years ago in the Bhutanese territory, when the Chinese communist party media outlet used to daily warn India of teaching lessons worse than 1962 Sino Indian conflict.”

“It is very surprising that when India is putting its united national effort in fighting the corona virus pandemic, the Chinese government has upped the ante once again on the military front. This is the third hot spot in the 3488 km Sino Indian Line of Actual control in just a month that the Chinese have created after the Sikkim and Pangong Tso altercation,” Kumar states.

“Probably the Chinese government wants to divert the attention of its pubic from accusations of incompetence in dealing with the Wuhan corona health emergency. China seems to be activating not only the Sino-Indian border but also the South China Sea, where the Chinese have provoked the littoral states of South China sea by naming the disputed islands as its administrative districts. In fact, China seems to be taking advantage of worldwide corona crisis, by taking military steps to expand its territorial claims from land to the ocean,” Kumar opines.

Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, School of International Studies, JNU, says “This seems to be getting more serious, though we need to be careful in reading too much into it yet because there have been repeated confrontations at the border when troops from both sides meet each other as they are patrolling in the disputed areas. The fact that Global Times has now started making threats should be noted, though GT is an aggressive hyper nationalistic outlet that does not always reflect Chinese government policy.”

“A key question is whether this escalated because of local dynamics, in other words, troops and commanders at the local level exceeding their brief, or whether it is a reflection of China’s general aggressiveness towards the outside world, which has been growing. If it is the latter, India definitely should worry. The fact that the situation hasn’t been stabilized, despite the Indian army chief’s statement, is definitely indicative that this is more worrying than the usual standoffs at the border” observes Prof Rajagopalan.

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