India-China standoff: How and why govt changed strategy on dealing with Beijing

After four months of stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and trying military tackles, talks and trade restrictions to push back China, India’s defence establishment has now added cautious counter offensive to its strategy.

Top sources in the government have said the signal came a few days back from the political executive that the situation cannot be underplayed any longer and that India needs to take a hard look with talking and economic pressures not succeeding.

The idea behind the significant shift in India’s strategy is to stop waiting for China to relent and agree to disengage and de-escalate while it is visibly out to heighten the conflict.

The view is that such a wait and watch game can be militarily disadvantageous and politically problematic.

India changes strategy

The changed strategy includes slow but steady assertion, exploring physically taking over zones China is illegally claiming to be its territory or even removing illegal Chinese occupation.

The government is, however, aware of the risks involved and is firm that talks at various levels should continue to defuse the situation through de-escalation and disengagement.

Since things were not working out, military options were brought on the table with discussions on actions that should be taken.

First sign of change in approach

The first sign of change in tactics came on August 24.

Defence strategists went on an alert when Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat said, “India’s defence forces are prepared to look at any military option if the extensive talks to restore status quo ante along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) do not yield any positive result.”

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