Sources have confirmed that in an incident in which four Indian and half a dozen Chinese troops were injured took place at Naku La sector, which is ahead of Muguthang, a pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres.
After a long time, once again a confrontation between the Indian and Chinese troops has taken place along the boundary in north Sikkim. Such acts by China against India during the COVID-19 show its aggressive intentions and would harm the bilateral ties in the long-run, opine experts. Sources have confirmed that in an incident in which four Indian and half a dozen Chinese troops were injured took place at Naku La sector, which is ahead of Muguthang, a pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres.
Since the boundary issues between the two countries remain unresolved such temporary and short duration face-offs keep happening. And when the Saturday incident when the troops on both sides had injuries happened, there were around 150 soldiers present and the matter was resolved at the local level.
Is this the first time?
No, this has happened earlier too when blows were exchanged along the border in that region. According to sources, such incidents are resolved mutually based on established protocols. In August 2017 –the Doklam incident took place when the two sides were locked in a stand-off which lasted for 75 days.
While sharing his views, Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, Consultant, Faculty of Political Science, IGNOU, New Delhi, says “China is showing its military muscle not only to India but also to the US and other countries who contest its claims in the South China Sea. As far as India is concerned, China generally indulges in a border face-off with India whenever India’s relations with the US and other Quad partners start growing close.
“The anti-China sentiment in the world is at an all-time high since China was not transparent about the extent and nature of Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. India is no exception and Indians want the government to stay cautious with China. The Indian government is already devising ways and means to lessen its economic dependence on China for good. The government has also amended its FDI policy with an eye on China,” says Sharma.
Adding, “India has refrained from calling the Coronavirus as Wuhan or China virus like Trump, has been doing and New Delhi has been pragmatic in this regard. Our forces are quite capable of giving a bloody nose to China. And at a time when humanity is under threat, China should tone down its boorish behaviour which would only further alienate people around the world including India.
Says Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, School of International Studies, JNU, “It is too early to say if this is something routine or something more serious. There have been repeated confrontations along with many points on the border, and it is understandable because there is a disagreement about where the border lies. So, Indian forces conduct patrols up to the Indian claim, while Chinese forces do the same to their claim. This means that sometimes they run into each other and clashes break out. This is usually just pushing and shoving, and there have even been stone-throwing at times, but usually does not go beyond this. And it is usually settled at the local level, and only rarely escalates where the respective capitals have to get involved.”
“On the other hand, because China has been particularly aggressive recently with many of its neighbours, there is an outside chance that this might presage something more serious. We will have to wait and see how this develops,” Rajagopalan concludes.
Ranjit Kumar, a senior journalist and China watcher observes: “Thanks to robust confidence-building measures implemented by India and China over 4000 km long un demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) from Arunachal Pradesh in the East to Aksai Chin in the west, the latest faceoff in the Nakula area of North Sikkim, passed off without any major confrontation. Both sides exchanged minor stone-pelting at each other injuring a few on both the sides. However, these confidence-building measures should not be considered as a foolproof firewall to prevent such faceoff from converting into a major conflagration. Last such confrontation happened in the Sikkim area in 1967 and the two forces haven’t exchanged any single bullet since then. This shows that the two sides are managing their border disputes peacefully.”
“However In spite of CBMs and the resolve of the highest political leadership of the two countries, to maintain peace and tranquillity in the most treacherous border areas, the two sides came very close to igniting full-scale military confrontation during the biggest and most tense faceoff in the post-1967 Sikkim clashes in the Doklam area in June 2017. This indicates the urgent need to demarcate the border areas to prevent any miscalculation. The two nuclear powers must not allow the border disputes to result in open war . The two leading economies and most populated countries of the world must show the maturity to come to an early conclusion of the unresolved border issues to enter into a new era of cooperation and mutual trust. In the year of 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China, the leadership of two countries must make a serious move to close the unending over three decades-long border talks and open a new era in bilateral relations,” Kumar adds.