Deadlock with China

The Chinese defence minister’s speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore was insightful for what it did not seek to hide — that despite the diplomatic niceties of conveying that maintaining a good relationship with India meets the interests of both countries, the responsibility for the border standoff does not lie with Beijing. For New Delhi, it’s a clear indication, if any were needed, that de-escalation of tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is not on the table, for now. Concerns have already been expressed over China upping the ante by strengthening defence infrastructure and deployment of more weapons in the recent past. A visiting US General’s assertion that the situation along the Eastern Ladakh sector was alarming was rebuffed by the Chinese as ‘adding fuel to fire’.

Two years since the violent clash in Galwan and 15 rounds of military talks later, a thaw in ties remains elusive. The two countries did not make much headway in the last round of diplomatic talks on May 31 either. If there is consensus, it’s on the acceptance that the relations are at a low point, with serious differences on how to move forward to resolve the confrontation and rebuild mutual trust. New Delhi has stood its ground that the state of the border will determine the state of the relationship; that is a pragmatic counter to the Chinese claim that India has been promoting the ‘de-Sinicisation’ of its economy and encouraging an anti-Chinese sentiment.

A tough call, but a two-front strategic threat is now an intrinsic part of the Indian military doctrine. There is no getting away from it. Not with an adversary that will employ any reason to justify border engagement, be it the opposition to development of Quad and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or strengthening of India’s military and strategic cooperation with the US and other countries, or defining a new Asian order that Beijing believes challenges its hegemony.

(Courtesy tribune india)