Following the May 5-6 clash, in the same month there was another physical clash which took place at the north bank of Pangong Tso, followed by the third clash in June which was deadly.
It has been exactly 100 days since the Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a physical clash on the north bank of Pangong Tso. Nothing has changed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, despite marathon talks between the military commanders, and at diplomatic talks. “From the beginning, China insisted on dialogue at a higher diplomatic and political level. Five rounds of negotiations at the level of Corps Commander have not succeeded in restoring the status quo ante,” experts opine. As an update, sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online, instead of any improvement, troops, heavy artillery guns, tanks, missiles, drones, fighter aircraft, helicopters as well as rocket launchers have been deployed by both sides.
Following the May 5-6 clash, in the same month there was another physical clash which took place at the north bank of Pangong Tso, followed by the third clash in June which was deadly. And, there were loss of men on both sides, while the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had lost an unspecified number of men; the Indian Army had lost 20 soldiers.
Update on De-escalation
So far, five rounds of talks between June-Aug 2 have taken place and it was decided to go ahead with de-escalation. However, China has not kept its side of the agreement. The only positive thing that has happened is the 3-km buffer zone at Patrolling point 14 (Galwan) and PP 15 (Hot Springs). And China refuses to move further away from the LAC and its position at Finger-4. It has similarly refused to move from PP 17 and PP17A which is located near Gogra. And as far as Depsang Plain is concerned, nothing has changed.
What does this mean?
Indian Army gets ready for a long winter haul. As the restoration of status quo ante (as on April 2020) seems a distant goal in Eastern Ladakh.
Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU, says, “At a very early stage, two things became quite obvious about the present standoff in Ladakh: first, that the dispute is not merely about technical transgressions of the Chinese army into undefined territories, and second that the army must prepare for a long haul.”
“After the Doklam push back, China came prepared to send a strong message to India especially on the issue of border construction. Its strategy is to pressurize New Delhi to come to negotiating table for a mutually agreeable solution or face the standoff through the winter. It might open up other sectors to test the resolve of the Indian side. China is not willing to concede without a firm political commitment from the Indian side,” Prof Rajan observes.
“From India’s standpoint, the success of the dialogue would imply the withdrawal of the Chinese army from the Pangong Tso and Depsang area. If the Indian army is not allowed to re-patrol in those areas where it did earlier, it would be difficult for New Delhi to disengage from the region,” he says.
In conclusion, Prof Rajan says, “It is in this context that Indian diplomacy is trying to reach out to Liu Jianchao, Deputy Director of the Office of the CPC Central Committee. He is considered to be an important interlocutor with a high influence on the Central Committee, an important organ for the Communist Party. In a Communist system, the ultimate decision would be made by the head of the party. Therefore, adopting a political route and Vikram Misri’s meeting with Liu Jianchao becomes noteworthy. One hopes that it will make headway towards de-escalation.”
“The fact that India is continuing to engage China in other forums, such as RIC, BRICS, etc., would indicate to Beijing that despite Indian words about bilateral relationship being affected, there is no real cost that China will have to pay. Indian military preparations for a prolonged stay at the LAC also indicates this because it is clearly defensive, designed to hopefully prevent future Chinese intrusions rather than reverse that which has already taken place,” Prof Rajagopalan concludes.