Lingering Stand-off

AIR Chief Marshall Vivek Ram Chaudhari said on Tuesday that India is ready to face any two-front scenario, obviously referring to the ongoing stand-off with China and Pakistan. Air Chief Marshall said that the new infrastructure created by the Chinese side in the region will not affect India's combat readiness. The theatre commands, the IAF chief added, are being planned to integrate the capabilities of the three services and to ensure optimal utilisation of their resources.

India’s border conflict with China along the Line of Actual Control is now over 18 months old and the Line of Control with Pakistan has always been prone to flare-ups - albeit, the ceasefire agreement between the two neighbours early this year has largely restored the calm. But there is little hope that the border calm with Pakistan will last unless the two countries build on the agreement and restore the long-stalled dialogue. The conflict along the LAC is showing no sign of being resolved anytime soon. The Air Chief acknowledged that there is increased Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force presence across eastern Ladakh but "it is not going to make much difference."

Over the last year, India has also massed its troops and defence equipment along its side of the LAC which has made it impossible for China to stage further incursions. This has also prevented the LOC-ization of the LAC that was expected to happen as a result of over a year-long stand-off. There are huge geo-political stakes for both the countries that can't be ignored. A lingering state of confrontation between the two will not be in the interest of either. More so for India which would not want a 3800 km border with China become an extension of LOC with Pakistan. India has to do a tough balancing act between its thickening relationship with the US and that with the China. Truth is China's rise on the global stage has become a reality.

For the world, China's emergence as a global power is a fraught prospect with far reaching implications for the way international business is conducted. More so, when China brings to the table an alternative system: a communist capitalism versus west's capitalist capitalism and democracy. What makes this global shift imminent is that Beijing is already rewriting the rules of the game and with each passing day advancing to seize what it sees as the Chinese century.

A pragmatic way out to resolve the lingering stand-off is through negotiations, even if it takes time. As we are already in second year of the stalemate, it will be in the interest of India and China to reach an understanding that also holds on the ground. But this can only happen if Beijing approaches the dialogue seriously.

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