Stalemate in India's relations with China: Statesman columnist

NEW DELHI (THE STATESMAN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – There have been 16 rounds of India-China talks to resolve the standoff in Ladakh, but apart from withdrawal on both banks of the cross-border Himalayan lake Pangong Tso, nothing else has been achieved.

Each time, it is said that both sides ‘agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of remaining issues at the earliest.’

The implication is that China is prolonging talks with an agenda.

The Ladakh intrusion by China breached all previous agreements.

Occupation of Kailash Ridge, the first offensive manoeuvre by India, conveyed its intent of challenging China.

Hence, Pangong Tso was resolved in initial talks.

Subsequently, there has been no forward movement, with China procrastinating, ignoring verbal understandings given prior to withdrawal from the Kailash Ridge area, an action now being questioned as possibly having been premature.

It is possible that Chinese stalling stems from India’s insistence on clubbing the areas of Demchok and Depsang, which preceded the current standoff, in ongoing talks.

Chinese aircraft have commenced flying close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), breaching the 1996 agreement which mentions that no military aircraft will fly within 10 kms of the LAC.

These are being conducted under the garb of an air exercise, again for the first time.

India has responded in an equally offensive manner.

No Chinese aircraft has crossed the LAC.

India is in the process of deploying its second S400 missile squadron along the LAC, displaying its ability to challenge Chinese aggressiveness. China, which had disputed Indian infrastructure development in Ladakh and claimed it to be a major reason for its intrusion, has announced plans for building new highways on disputed territory.

Highway G695 will pass close to the disputed Depsang plains, Galwan and Pangong Tso.

A bridge under construction on the Pangong Tso, will possibly be part of this highway.


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