Decoding Confrontation in Ladakh between India and China

Image source: The Hindu

The latest Chinese incursions along the border with India rang alarm bells. After all, what is Beijing conveying to the world through this?

When the soldiers of the two Nuclear Nation fight against each other with scuffle, fistfight and stone, there is a frightening assurance from them. One can get a peculiar glimpse of the statement which is usually mistakenly told by Albert Einstein about how the Fourth World War will be fought. Disagreements along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, 4058 km, led to a scuffle and fistfight confrontation between the soldiers of the two countries, but the rifle of the soldiers of both the arm was hanging upside down. The last bullet on this longest disputed border in the world was fired about 43 years ago. Nevertheless, in the first week of May, the skirmishes between the Indo-Chinese shoulder in eastern Ladakh are a cause for concern, the clash at the LAC at the fringes of the ringed saltwater lake Pangong Tso was worse. Many Indian soldiers had to be hospitalized.

Former Ambassador of India to Kyrgyzstan P. Stobden warns, “Ladakh is the Lakshman Rekha for India, the Chinese must not be allowed to cross it, if they come here they will enter an area which is full of water of three rivers – Shyok, Galwan and Chang-Chenmo (Indian Army called finger).”

The present stiffness between the two sides came into high-pitched focus when reports of scuffles between the soldiers of both sides were reported in the Pangong Lake region on 5th of May. Since the clashes, there have been multiple reports of disturbances by Chinese infantry soldiers in areas which include Demchok to the South, the Fingers region on the Eastern banks of the high-altitude Pangong Lake, the Galwan River basin and more recently the Gogra post. There have also been some reports of augmented Chinese activity to the North, towards the Daulat Beg Oldie area.

PLA troops at LAC/ Image source: AP

Why does face-off occur?

They mainly occur in areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The LAC has never been demarcated. Face-off occurs when patrols encounter each other in the contested zone between overlapping claim lines. Protocols agreed in 2005 and 2013 detail rules of engagement to prevent such incident, but have not always been adhered to.

Sources said that contrary to inputs of a large Chinese troop presence at Galwan Valley, the build-up in within the Chinese Claim Line (CCL), which is also considered as the LAC at the local level. Sources told that the Chinese have not crossed their CCL in these areas but they did accept that these areas are about 3 KM within India’s perception of the LAC. The patrol points in these areas are named by number and Indian troops a mix of Army and ITBP personnel, patrol these points from time to time. ‘No maps have been exchanged in this area between India and China demarcating what is the LAC.’

India has long proposed an exercise to clarify differing perceptions of the LAC to prevent such incidents. Maps were exchanged in the middle sector, but the exercise fell through in the western sector where divergence is the greatest. China has since rejected this exercise, viewing it as adding another complication to the on-going boundary negotiations.

Image source: Reuters

India-China Military Talks

The representative from the two nations meets in Moldo on the Chinese facet. The Indian delegation was led by Lieutenant General Harindra Singh, who is the commander of the Leh based 14 corps, also known as the “Fire and Fury Corps”. The 14 corps looks after military deployment along Kargil-Leh and looks after the frontiers with China, Kashmir and also guards the Siachen Glacier. His counterpart from china a ten official Chinese delegation headed by crops commander of South Xinjiang Military Division of People’s Liberation Army, Major General Lin Lui.

Sources said, the meeting started at 11:30 AM, and eventually ended after 6:30 PM. There were multiple rounds of meeting, including sessions on point of contention in the Pangong Lake where the Chinese have built a binder and moat-like structure. Between finger 3 and 4 to prevent the Indian patrol team from moving ahead. 

They also talk about the 1993 Agreement. Over the years Indian and china have signed many agreements to build peace on the border. One of them is the 1993 Border Agreement. This document also finds out on the website of the United Nation Peacemaker. This document called “ Agreement on the maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border area. Article 3 of the 1993 Agreement conclude that “ Both sides should, in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual understanding, make meaningful and mutually acceptable adjustments to their respective positions on the boundary question. The boundary settlement must be final, covering all sectors of the India-China boundary.

After 7 hours long talk, The foreign minister S. Jaisankar reveal that India and China have agreed to “peaceful resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with the various bilateral agreement”,

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement “It took place in a friendly and positive atmosphere. Both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements and keeping in view the agreement between the leaders that peace and tranquillity in the India-China border regions is crucial for the overall development of bilateral relations,”.

Image source: REUTERS/Aly Song

The reason why china doing this

In 2018 Xi Jinping became president for life by making changes to the Chinese constitution. But this COVID-19 disaster happening in just two years of his long presidency. This situation has ruined his image in China and globally. Hence Xi Jinping trying to divert the attention away from the COVID-19 disaster and achieve something regionally to repair his images. By increasing military near the border, China is sending a clear signal to India regarding Hong Kong issue, they are trying that anyhow India should not give support to Hong Kong at Internationally. India and QUAD countries especially Australia is going to sign a Defence Logistic Pact, this pact will provide more strength to India in Indi-Pacific Region.

As a conclusion, “India is not going to be threatened by China neither India is going to threaten China”. First of all, in these circumstances chances of war is 0% because both nations are having nuclear power. Recently Network18 revealed an online poll in which the most Indian prefer US President Donald Trump over the Chinese president Xi Jinping and 91% support boycott of Chinese goods. Almost all Indian (94%) believe that China has been dishonest in its handling of the Coronavirus Crisis.  

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Saurabh Singh

Saurabh Singh is an Intern at South Asian Center, Manohar Parrikar- Institute for Defence and Strategic Analysis, New Delhi

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