By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-05-27 19:24:49
China is trying to put pressure on India for various reasons by doing things at the LAC which it should not. The latest reports, first published by NDTV, show that it has upgraded landing facilities at an airstrip at Ngari Gunsa in Tibet, close to the border near Ladakh and satellite pictures showed fighter jets on the tarmac. Just a day after that, President Xi, speaking to men drawn from the armed forces and the police, asked the military to be fully prepared for any eventuality and be battle-ready in what he called "worst-case scenarios". Although Xi did not refer to the border conflict with India, the allusion to the ongoing stand-off was hard to miss.
The official Chinese media has already, and consistently, accused India of trespassing into the country's territory. China wants to show India as the aggressor and says that it has been forced to go for a build-up of troops to foil India's designs. The matter had escalated to such an extent that it is now being seen as the worst border conflict since Kargil in 1999. It is a measure of the success of the periodic interaction between the armed forces of the two countries at the border that the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation did not result in combat, although a scuffle was initially reported but not confirmed by either side.
The Western nations, especially the US, were alarmed. The media in the West focused on the build-up of troops by both countries and worried about matters escalating into a war. Today, President Trump called it a "raging" dispute and he was ready to mediate between the two countries. But the stand-off is a matter between India and China and should ideally be solved through political and diplomatic dialogue. Intervention by any other country is neither feasible nor desirable at this juncture. India and China share a fairly long border and China has always raised disputes in many places. In fact, the Chinese have consistently laid claims on Arunachal Pradesh and other areas of the north-east, the Doklam region and are in possession of Aksai Chin and a huge area in PoK west to that which was 'gifted' to them by Pakistan.
But the two countries are negotiating about these and have signed many border agreements. This is an ongoing process. Although it would be naive to see the border stand-offs such as the one in Doklam or the current one in Ladakh and Sikkim as purely local disputes (the Chinese army is not authorized to act independently even in minor situations and the orders always come from Beijing), there is no need to press the panic button. Neither is there any need to back off. The Chinese foreign ministry has already issued a statement that said that the situation at the border was "overall stable and controllable". The statement also recalled the mechanisms in place between the two countries for resolving such disputes and was hopeful that it would be resolved through "dialogue and consultation". The Indian army must stand firm at the border while the matter should be resolved at the political and diplomatic levels.