“The fourth military level marathon talks between India and China, as expected, seemed to have made only limited progress to resolve the border crisis in Eastern Ladakh,” say experts.
The marathon talks between XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh and Xinjiang Military Region Commander Major General Liu Lin, which started on Tuesday morning (July 14, 2020), reportedly ended in the early hours of Wednesday (2 am on July 15). Both commanders met again at Chushul on the Indian side of the LAC. “The fourth military level marathon talks between India and China, as expected, seemed to have made only limited progress to resolve the border crisis in Eastern Ladakh,” say experts.
Sharing his view with Financial Express Online, Lt Gen AB Shivane (Retd), says, “As of now even the official communication is awaited and information trickle slow. The crisis is here to stay for a much longer time for any resolution and the imperative of both sides pulling back to positions as held on April 2020 a challenge. As the Doklam crisis showed, such build-ups take a long time to be resolved and the final resolution too may be in shades of grey. The winters and the harsh weather that makes long deployments hard to sustain are also some time away. Thus, the Chinaman had chosen the time, place and force in Eastern Ladakh, to its operational advantage for a larger strategic aim in the Himalayas.”
“The Chinaman militarily is negotiating from a position of strength. The biggest challenge lies in the Pangong Lake intrusion between Finger 8 and 4. It is unlikely that the Chinese will relent easily without perceived operational and strategic gain. There is this Chinese noun equivalent of the face ( aka ?? or miànzi) loss of which is simply not acceptable. “Salami Slicing” and “Winning Without Fighting” is a well-known Chinese dictum that India needs to realise and must create counter leverages. We lost a “Quid Pro Quo” opportunity of regaining initiative at time and place of our choosing during the crisis,” Gen Shivane explains.
According to the former general, “Chinaman only respects strength. Even the absence of a joint statement after the Special Representative diplomatic talks and the tone and tenor of the Chinese statement says a lot more than written about the Chinese intent.”
“In the meantime, the soldier on the ground will need to be ever more vigilant and our forces operationally ready for the worst-case scenario. While history is a place of reference, not residence, yet lessons must never be forgotten. Intentions change very fast but capability building takes a very long time especially in the Indian context. Thus, we need a focused approach for capability building to counter future threats and give teeth to credible deterrence on our northern borders,” Gen Shivane concludes.
According to Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd), “The point of discussion amongst other areas of disengagement was probably more focused on the areas of Pangong Tso where Chinese troops are reportedly still present.”
On Sunday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, while speaking about disengagement process that began last week after a telephonic conversation between NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, said “it has just commenced, and very much a work in progress.”
As per a quote of Mr S Jaishankar, “We have agreed on the need to disengage because troops on both sides are deployed very close to each other. So, there is a disengagement and de-escalation process which has been agreed upon. It has just commenced, and very much a work in progress. So, at this point, I wouldn’t like to say more than that.”
So what does this mean?
“To put it in simple words it’s a discussion taking place between the two leaders, the Chinese speak in their language requiring interpretation and likewise the Indian response is in English requiring to be translated into Chinese.
If the quotes of the Indian NSA, Chinese and foreign ministers are to be read carefully each side is bidding for time and would not like to be seen weak and agreeable quickly and willingly to any suggestions and recommendations made,” Lt Col Channan observes.
Adding, “The point to remember is that we shouldn’t be missing the woods for the trees while being focused in the Ladakh sector of the LAC. The disengagement and relocation of Chinese troops must be observed with care and the areas in particular where there is no response from the Chinese.”
“Chinese are engaged globally in consolidating their position vis a vis the US in its quest to become the only Superpower in the world. The signing of the pact with Iran and thereby consolidating its energy needs is a new dimension to the on-going Geo Military ascendancy of the Chinese.
Global and Indian leaders need to read the tea leaves carefully and see it from the Global perspective of the dragon’s wish list,” Lt Col Channan suggests.