China Problem

INDIA and China failed to make any breakthrough in resolving their lingering stand-off along the Line of Control in Ladakh at the 16th round of military talks on Sunday. The two sides, however, agreed to continue dialogue for a mutually acceptable resolution at the earliest. They reaffirmed that the resolution of the pending issues would help in the restoration of peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control. The talks, which continued for around twelve-and-half-hours centered on the need for early disengagement of troops from all the remaining friction points in the region and demanded the restoration of the status quo ante as of April 2020 when China first staged incursions along the LAC. The joint statement said the two sides agreed to maintain security and stability on the ground in eastern Ladakh and agreed to stay in “close contact” and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels to work out a mutually acceptable resolution to the remaining issues “at the earliest”.

But going by the outcome of the multiple rounds of talks so far, it looks highly unlikely that the two countries will come to an understanding in the near future. Though the two countries have since resolved the stand-off along Pangong Tso lake, the stalemate along the other three points – Galwan Valley,  Hot Springs and Gogra – persists. And it is unlikely to end anytime soon. And considering the two countries are only bolstering their troop presence in Ladakh, the conflict looks set to continue for now. More so, when the divergences between the two are only increasing what with India getting closer to the western bloc and China becoming the principal global rival to United States.

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 defence positions and heliports near the Indian border.

This has now become a high stakes war of nerves between the two countries. However, this time New Delhi is approaching the situation very cautiously and waiting if China’s intermittent statements of reconciliation are translated into action. There is also the realisation that the complete de-escalation will be a long haul.

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