Lingering Stand-off

YET another round of talks between India and China to resolve the ongoing standoff in Ladakh have ended in a stalemate. This means the two sides will need to keep their troops deployed along the Line of Actual Control for the second winter in a row. India has blamed China for not being “agreeable,” even though it had offered “constructive suggestions.” Chinese military spokesperson, on the other hand, blamed the Indian side for sticking “to unreasonable and unrealistic demands, adding difficulties to the negotiations”.

The stand-off is thus seems set to continue. And this is not a good evolving security situation for India. And the country’s security brass is aware of this. Earlier, Army chief General M M Naravane termed “the largescale build-up” of the People’s Liberation Army along the Chinese side of the border as a matter of concern. He also pointed out “ an equal amount of infrastructure development,” on the Chinese side.

But there is little that New Delhi can do about it. In the recent past, China has tried to expand the conflict along the LAC. Two weeks ago, over a hundred Chinese transgressed into Uttarakhand and returned after destroying a bridge. As time goes by, the differences between India and China are becoming irreconcilable.

India wants China to go back to status quo ante as it existed in April last year but Beijing is in no mood to do so. On the contrary, the People’s Liberation Army has enhanced its military profile on the border by deploying thousands of its soldiers and equipment. In recent years China has reportedly more than doubled its total number of airbases, air defense positions, and heliports near the Indian border. This has now become a high-stakes war of nerves between the two countries.

An eyeball to eyeball confrontation between the two countries has lingered ever since the forces of the two countries clashed at Galwan Valley in June-15-16 last year leading to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese personnel. A pragmatic way out to resolve the lingering stand-off is through negotiations, even if it takes time. With winter again approaching it will be in the interest of both the countries to reach an understanding that also holds on the ground. But this can only happen if Beijing approaches the dialogue seriously. But as the latest rounds of the dialogue between the two countries has underlined, it seems unlikely that the stand-off would be resolved in near future.

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