India-China standoff: Time to stand up to Chinese belligerence, says expert

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Updated: Oct 13, 2020 7:50 PM

During the top military commanders meeting in Chushul at Moldo Garrison, the Indian side was focused on the steps taken by the Chinese PLA to de-escalate the tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

Commissioned in the 17th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment, the new Corps Commander is also the Colonel Commandant of the Sikh Regiment.

The 7th Corps Commander meeting between India and China lasted for almost 12 hours and the outcome is still awaited. The meeting which was led by the outgoing 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh had started at around mid-day on Monday (Oct 12, 2020) and got over at around 11.30 late evening. During the top military commanders meeting in Chushul at Moldo Garrison, the Indian side was focused on the steps taken by the Chinese PLA to de-escalate the tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

The Indian side was led by Lt Gen Harinder Singh and the Chinese side by Maj GenLin Liu of China, also present during the meeting was the designate 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen PGK Menon, and JS from the Ministry of External Affairs.

Joint Statement issued by MEA & Ministry of Defence

According to a joint statement released by the government of Tuesday evening (Oct 13, 2020), “The two sides have agreed not to turn differences into disputes, to earnestly implement the important understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries, and to jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”

The in-depth talks were sincere, constructive exchange of views and were focused on the disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of India-China border areas.

While the two sides have agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, they also agreed to reach a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement the earliest.

They both were of the view that the discussions on Monday were positive and constructive in nature, and enhanced understanding of each other’s positions.

New 14 Corps Commander

While the outcome of Monday’s talks are awaited, on Wednesday, Lt Gen PGK Menon is all set to take over as the new commander of 14 Corps, which is also known as known as the Fire and Fury Corps.

He is replacing Lt Gen Harinder Singh, who is going to take over as the Commandant of the IMA, Dehradun, after completing one year as the Corps Commander.

More about Lt Gen Menon

He is the son of Subedar SK Menon (Retd), and it is a matter of great pride for the Indian Army. He has been participating in the joint military and diplomatic level talks since last month and has been in Leh for almost a month now.

Commissioned in the 17th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment, the new Corps Commander is also the Colonel Commandant of the Sikh Regiment. As a new 14 Corps Commander he comes with prior experience of dealing with China and in the eastern command and this according to sources will be of great help in dealing with the current situation along the LAC.

More about 14 Corps or The Fire and Fury Corps

Besides dealing with China in Ladakh, it also has the task of dealing with Pakistan in the Drass-Kargil-Batalik and the Siachen sector.

What does a former Army officer say?

“The Chinese have communicated that they do not recognise the Union Territory of Ladakh and wants India to fall back to the 1959 LAC, as was discussed between the then PM Zhou En Lai and Jawahar Lal Nehru. It’s been given to understand that the PLA has been rotating troops in batches of 200 to have fresh troops in the eye to eye contact,” says Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd).

In his opinion, “The current discussions and the Chinese intent is clear that it does not intend to withdraw from the intrusions while trying to wrangle for a position of advantage by its current reference to the 1959 LAC deployment. It’s clearly an attempt to diplomatically manoeuvre to make the Indian Army withdraw from the heights which dominate the Chinese defences.”

“India in a bold move must recognise Tibet and Taiwan as independent countries, a QPQ to the CCP statement of not recognising Ladakh as an integral part of India,” Lt Col Channan suggests.

According to him, “The rotation of troops by PLA deployed at high altitude definitely reflects the loss of morale and the fact the “greenhorns” are not combat-ready to sustain along deployment at heights of 18000 feet and above.”

In conclusion, he says, “The past lessons of engagement with PLA in Sumdrong Chu and active engagement restored status quo ante in the Tawang Sub Sector. The Government and Indian Army in particular should not be naïve in accepting any withdrawal from the heights dominating Chinese positions and must consolidate its defences as well as build up its offensive capability in the winter season. It’s a cost well spent to stand up to the Chinese belligerence.”

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