As armies ‘retreat’ at LAC, India must turn to options it hasn’t used against China so far

The adage, a good general knows when to retreat, applies to both India and China equally well at a time when New Delhi and Beijing have made similar announcements about withdrawing their armies in Ladakh to safe distance from each other. It is yet to be discerned whether the two armies have gone back to the pre-conflict spot. The withdrawal seems to have been agreed and implemented as a result of the talks between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Those who are raising doubts about India’s upper hand in the Ladakh standoff and subsequent events should do some introspection and determine for themselves if they are really doing a service to the country and the cause of its defence. As it stands, India has multiple options to deal with a belligerent China even as many of them have not yet been put to use effectively so far.

China’s main grouse seems to be India’s perceived tilt towards the US, with which it is involved in a trade war, and the subsequent economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. New Delhi has maintained a strict balance in the US-China trade war, continuing normal business relations with Beijing. But the Chinese bravado in Ladakh had to be met with equal military might and economic retaliation.

So far, China has gotten away with its hit-and-run policy and using its proxies to stymie New Delhi’s peace and progress initiatives in the region. Riding on the anti-China sentiments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 20 lakh crore economic package aimed at self-reliance (Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan) and massive revival of the Indian manufacturing sector.

But with a blanket ban on Chinese imports and a hostile anti-China market, New Delhi could well ensure Beijing’s economic growth targets for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s centenary bash in 2021 go awry.

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