Thursday, January 20, 2022

China’s Obduracy On Disengagement Along LAC

After the latest round of protracted diplomatic and military parleys between India and China over disengagement on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the aftermath of the Galwan Valley clash that resulted in loss of lives on both sides, complete disengagement has been achieved at Patrolling Point 14, 15 and 17 A in eastern Ladakh. The nearly three-hour-long virtual confabulations were held under the aegis of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs.

However, disengagement is yet to be implemented is the Finger area along the Pangong Tso Lake, from Finger 5 to Finger 8. India has already made its stand on the situation clear. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs had said, “We have also made it clear that India is fully committed to observing and respecting the LAC (with China) and that we will not accept any unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the LAC.” Meanwhile, a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said both sides had agreed that another meeting of the Corps Commanders “may be held soon, so as to work out further steps to ensure expeditiously complete disengagement and de-escalation”. 

The Ministry of External Affairs statement said the two sides agreed “that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual (LAC) and de-escalation from India-China border areas in accordance with bilateral protocols and full restoration of peace and tranquility was essential for smooth and overall of bilateral relations.” It further added that “the two sides noted that this was in accordance with the agreement reached between the two Special Representatives (SRs) during their telephonic conversations on 5 July 2020. They agreed in this regard that it was for both sides to sincerely implement the understanding reached between Senior Commanders in their meetings till date.”

On the other hand, media quoted Chinese sources as claiming that “positive progress made by the frontline border defence forces of the two countries to disengage and ease the situation on the ground”. In yet another development having a bearing on India-China relations, India has made it clear that business with China will not be same as before. While India seeks to resolve these problems through dialogue, New Delhi has made it clear it will not do business with China as usual until there is a complete disengagement of military forces along the LAC and de-escalation in the border areas in accordance with agreements and protocols.

It may be noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said that in an era of development, the era of expansion has come to an end. Significantly, India does not believe in trade war with any country. However, the ban on some Chinese apps is a measure to ensure India’s digital security.

It is only in the interest of the two countries and their peoples that the status quo ante in the Line of Actual Control is restored soon. At a time when there is an international backlash against China, it would be prudent on the part of China to heal the wounds and repair the bilateral relations between the two countries and their peoples for mutual benefit.

It is a fact of life that India and China are neighbours and it is always wise to live in peace rather than in perpetual anxiety and tension. This year, when the two countries are observing the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations, restoration of peace and tranquility in the India-China border will be a huge step in the desired direction.

It is hoped that the persistent security dilemma prevailing on the LAC is resolved at the next round of Corp Commanders’ meeting likely to take place very soon.

 Script: Dr. Rupa Narayan Das, Strategic Analyst on Chinese Affairs

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