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India looks ready for long stand-off with China, may not stop border infra work

Why in news?

As Indian and Chinese troops remain locked in stand-off positions in several points in Ladakh, at the senior levels of government there is a determination that India will not stop its border development activities.


While reinforcements in men and material are being rushed to the forward positions where soldiers from both sides have pitched tents and dug in, it appears that India is also prepared for a long stand-off.

India- China face off on Ladakh- Legacy IAS

On the ground, the stand-off at Galwan is connected to Indian construction activities, which includes building a road from Dharchuk via Shyok to Daulat Beg Oldie which is now a revamped advance landing ground (ALG), literally the highest airstrip in the world, where India can land C-130 J aircraft, giving a huge boost to its strategic airlift capability.

It is this road which gives India access to the Karakoram Highway, is what the Chinese are objecting to. The road was completed in 2019.

Why can we witness more such stand-off with China in future?

Indian security sources say India should be prepared for more turbulence with China on the border.

This is because, as a “second mover” India is playing catch-up to China’s own impressive border development works.

In the past four years, India has stepped on the gas on border roads and landing strips, all along the LAC. That is bringing Indian troops straight up to the LAC faster and easier than before, enabling India to more frequently challenge Chinese aggressive border patrolling.

Mirroring their deployment and behaviour, there has, on occasion, been Indian aggressiveness in response. This is inevitably leading to more face-offs.

Way forward:

  • Delhi needs to remind Beijing that a fundamental principle in all previous agreements is recognising the right to mutual and equal security of the two sides.
  • The immediate priority now is for both sides to use existing channels and step back.
  • Flag meetings between brigade commanders have so far been unable to break the stalemate.
  • The incidents have underlined how the new LAC situation is placing existing mechanisms under renewed stress.
  • So, India and China should grasp the current situation as an opportunity to revive the stalled process of clarifying the LAC.
  • China has resisted this as a distraction to the boundary negotiations.
  • But rather than agree on a line, both can instead simply seek to better understand the claims of the other.
  • They can reach a common understanding to regulate activity in these areas.
  • Clarifying the LAC may even provide a fresh impetus to the stalled boundary talks between the Special Representatives.
  • A final settlement will ultimately have to use the LAC as a basis, with only minor adjustments.
  • In the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, it is time both the countries push for a settlement.

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November 2023