India-China Standoff On Ladakh: The Story So Far
The standoff in India-China border at Ladakh shows no signs of dissipating with troops from both sides locked in an eyeball to eyeball confrontation for nearly four weeks now.
The standoff in India-China border at Ladakh shows no signs of dissipating with troops from both sides locked in an eyeball to eyeball confrontation for nearly four weeks now. Several rounds of talks at the ground level involving Brigadiers and Major generals of both sides have proved to be fruitless going by media reports.
Strategists say that China has been inching its way forward into Indian territory since the end of the 1962 conflict. The former foreign secretary Sham Saran headed a committee to go into the Chinese transgression in the Ladakh sector and in 2013 it presented a report stating that China had encroached upon around 640 kms of Indian territory. This was done gradually over a period of several years. What is of strategic significance is that China is said to have made inroads into key paths of the territory. This would shift the balance strategically in China's favour since it has also been building roads, bridges and at least one air-strip in the area
This particular standoff between India and China in the Ladakh sector appears to be serious also because China is under a lot of international pressure on the coronavirus situation. Some strategists maintain that China's buildup on the border with India in Sikkim, as well as Ladakh, is a ploy to distract domestic anger and resentment. It is also a way of drumming up nationalism at home away from the glare of dipping GDP figures as the international economy has come to a grinding halt.
This is perhaps the most serious standoff between the two countries since the confrontation at Doklam in 2017. The two-month-long standoff at the Doklam trijunction of Bhutan, India and China which is considered to be of strategic significance was eventually resolved through diplomatic dialogue at a higher level.
This time around, Indian soldiers and Chinese troops came to blows on May 5 near Pangong lake in East Ladakh. In the scuffle, soldiers from both sides were said to have been injured leading to reinforcement and increased troop presence on both sides. Last Friday, the chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane paid a quiet visit to Ladakh headquarters of the Indian Army and reviewed the situation along with commanders in the sector. The border situation is said to have figured prominently in the 3-day military conference held in the national capital. It has also been reviewed by the defence minister, prime minister along with NSA Ajit Doval and CDS Vipin Rawat.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump waded into the dispute saying that he was ready to mediate and even claimed to have spoken to PM Modi on the issue. He told the media at the White House that PM Modi was not in a good mood about the India-China situation. The ministry of external affairs was quick to refute claims of any conversation which the US President said took place.
Significantly, defence minister Rajnath Singh also said that India and China would resolve their differences at the diplomatic level amicably.