Reports have emerged that China has increased its troop strength along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh breaking its agreement made at the sixth round of talks on September 21. In December, videos emerged of Chinese civilian vehicles transgressing into the Demchok area also in Ladakh. Meanwhile, the Indian Army referred to a confrontation on January 20 between Indian and Chinese troops in the wake of a transgression by the latter at Naku La in northern Sikkim, as a “minor face-off”.
Essentially, what we are seeing since the Galwan clash in June, is the steady normalisation of confrontations and tensions along the LAC as well as of fruitless bilateral talks. This was predicted in an earlier article for Moneycontrol.
Nevertheless, the Indian press release of the latest and ninth round of military commander-level meetings claimed that there was a “good momentum of dialogue and negotiation”, even as it continued calls for “early disengagement of the frontline troops” and for “effective efforts in ensuring the restraint of the frontline troops”.
Clearly, one or the other part of the press release is true, both cannot be true at the same time. It should be obvious to all but the most ignorant of China’s domestic politics and its external behaviour that it is highly unlikely that China will ever withdraw its troops unless forced to. Neither Indian military commanders nor policymakers with experience of dealing with China fall in this category.
Why then does the Indian government continue to put out statements that both tie itself up in knots and mislead the public? What is the way forward?