Withdrawal of troops on India-China LAC: Tactical move or strategic step

Published: June 10, 2020 1:27 PM

India needs to step-up its diplomatic initiatives in the SAARC region less Pakistan and keep its interests alive in these countries to contain the Chinese influence in regional affairs. This is a sticky point pushed back to the back burner by all political parties for reasons unknown.

Better sense would be for the leadership on either side to stick to the agreed upon negotiations through the established Joint Working Groups.

By Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd)

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) dispute is now a month plus old, the respective governments are in talks at various levels including Military. This is with a centric thought that all issues of border dispute be resolved amicably and through talks. As per media reports, the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army has reportedly in an interview mentioned that there is a pullback on the LAC, to enable an environment of peace and tranquillity.

Desired as it is both countries are grappling with common issues of COVID 19 and stressed economies. Better sense would be for the leadership on either side to stick to the agreed upon negotiations through the established Joint Working Groups.

Under the circumstances while diplomatic parleys continue as well as the proposed meeting this morning between the respective Divisional Commander’s in continuation of the 06 June talks between the Senior Military leaders and setting up of the hot line between the Director General Military Operations are all positive signs; at the macro level.

At the ground level, the troops may well pull back in consonance with the agreed-to decisions taken at the joint meetings, in no way suggests that the Chinese mindset on the areas it claims as its territory has changed. The Chinese are quick to mobilise and develop infrastructure in areas of its interest, Doklam is a recent case; which should be remembered and cited as an example in all our discussions.

There are reports of a power struggle in the Chinese Communist Party and speculations are being made on the Balkanisation of China as was the case of the erstwhile USSR. The CCP and its leadership is harsh and is least worried about Human Right violations.

To quote media reports “The Shanghai faction, led by Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao-led Beijing faction are caught in a covert war with Zhenjiang faction, led by President Xi Jinping, and each one is trying to eliminate the influence of the other in the dirty political game. And, behind the scene is massive labour unrest, pro-democracy protests against the present regime that hardly finds mention in the highly-censored national and international media. Spies and analysts closely monitoring the growing turbulence in China believe that the collapse is likely to be expedited as unprecedented crackdown against opposition and disappearance of lawyers and human right activists are causing massive chaos in the Chinese hinterland.”

This cauldron of a power struggle is a honey pot for all those opposed to the idea of Chinese supremacy in the World Order. While India must continue to engage with China diplomatically; it should not rule out its options of diplomatically recognising Taiwan, engaging with the US to give recognition to Tibet as an Independent country under Chinese Military siege as well as Military crackdown on Muslim Uighurs. The Indian Government needs to step up its Military Cooperation with Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea to weave a counter web against the Chinese attempt to hem India into its coastal region. The RBI clearance of 2018 to the Bank of China’s operations in India need to be revisited.

India needs to step-up its diplomatic initiatives in the SAARC region less Pakistan and keep its interests alive in these countries to contain the Chinese influence in regional affairs. This is a sticky point pushed back to the back burner by all political parties for reasons unknown.

Last but not the least, we should be reading the tea leaves more diligently and look at our National Interests not in a five to ten-year election cycle but on strong fundamental pillars of a strong economy backed by a Strong Military. If we are able to achieve all of the above, I strongly believe that we will negotiate from a position of strength. The intelligentsia in South Block must already be working on it, wishing them the very best in their initiatives.

We must pull back tactically and retain our strategic poise against the Chinese in the days ahead.

(The author is an Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal.)

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