Coercive diplomacy worked? Chinese troops seen disengaging post Corps Commander Level talks; what experts say

By: |
July 6, 2020 3:23 PM

As per the agreement which was reached at during the recent Corps Commanders Level, there seems to be active disengagement in Galwan Valley, Hot Spring, Gogra Post area, Pangong Tso.

indian army, india china standoff, chinsese troops, PLA, galwan valley, Pangong Tso, LAC, India-China relationship, latest news on india china standoff, defence newsBoth countries last week had agreed on an initial de-escalation plan and a 72-hour observation window, as this would help to ensure steps agreed upon have been taken on the ground. (File photo: AP)

The Indian Army has been keeping a watch on the Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) movement in the Galwan Valley. As per the agreement which was reached at during the recent Corps Commanders Level, there seems to be active disengagement in Galwan Valley, Hot Spring, Gogra Post area, Pangong Tso. At the time of filing this report, there has been no official confirmation on the extent of the disengagement from the Chinese side. According to informed sources, “The verification of the extent of the disengagement will be done later.” Both countries last week had agreed on an initial de-escalation plan and a 72-hour observation window, as this would help to ensure steps agreed upon have been taken on the ground.

This is important as once it is verified that the de-escalation has happened as per the understanding will the next round start.

During the talks the two sides had talked about Galwan valley’s Patrol point 14, 15 and 17A, Hot springs and Pangong Tso, Finger 4. Sources have confirmed that the Chinese troops have been moving back in all three flashpoint ares.

At the Patrol Point 14 in Galwan where the clashes between the forces of the two armies had taken place on June 15, troops of PLA could been seen moving back to their rear position almost 2 km on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The story so far

As has been reported earlier, both sides on June 1 had met and arrived at a disengagement consensus. This was followed by some form of disengagement and there were violent clashes between the two armies.

The Chinese side has been attempting to change the status quo along the LAC. This has been going on since early May this year when the PLA troops have been creating hindrance in India’s regular patrolling pattern in the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. They even tried to transgress the LAC in the Western sector.

Reportedly the Chinese are moving back from the Pangong Lake area which has been the sticky point for both sides. The Chinese have been sitting and holding positions till Finger 4 – this is almost 8 km inside India’s perception of the LAC at Finger 8.

Expert View

“Early Days, but the Indian strategy could be working,” says Maj Gen Neeraj Bali (retd). He has had firsthand experience with the Chinese in the Northeast in Twang sector.

According to Maj Gen Bali, “In potentially combustible operational situations, tactical actions can cast a strategic shadow. The violent incidents of 15/16 June at Galwan involving a handful of troops on either side have changed the paradigm of India-China relationship. Post that incident, a pall of suspense has been hanging over the region. What will be the trajectory of future actions by the two powerful nations?”

“Military commanders of the rank of Corps Commander of both countries have been continually engaged in intense parleys. But, until this morning, the outcome was unclear. It has now been announced by a senior Indian government official that both sides have agreed to withdraw 1.5 kilometres from their present positions. In fact, one source has reported the official as confirming that the Chinese have already moved back. Experts will surely examine this development in greater detail. For instance, does the 1.5 kilometre drawback begin from the current positions or from the Line of Actual Control as was respected prior to the present skirmishes?”

“The move has to be greeted with cautious welcome. The Indian strategy of unrelenting pressure by means other than military seems to be paying off. The ban on Chinese apps, the withdrawal of Chinese bids from roads and highways tenders, the declared intent of not allowing imports into the power sector and, equally importantly, the Prime Minister’s visit to Ladakh with an unambiguously strong message appear to have made the coercive diplomacy work. It is, of course, too early to rush to final conclusions but could it be that the Indian strategy has successfully used a leaf out of the Chinese playbook – victory without firing a single shot? If that is the case, it is a fortuitous development, he opines.

Already besieged by global criticism over its handling of the pandemic, the Chinese have strangely opted to open fresh fronts – with India, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Australia and Taiwan. It is hard to fathom the underlying logic of this strategy but it would appear that it is beginning to backfire.

“It is the right moment for India to continue to press ahead using diplomatic and other means, while cooling tempers that are baying for a military action,” Maj Gen Bali concludes.

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