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Friday, April 16, 2021

China steps back from LAC: How India taught lessons

This is a huge development and probably a win for India after months of the violent stand-off with China. The Dragons have finally completed withdrawing its troops by 2km in the highly contested Hot Springs and Galwan area of eastern Ladakh on Tuesday.

The Chinese soldiers are also pulling back from Gogra near Hot Springs. Similarly, the Indian troops have stepped back equal distance in all these three areas.

Buffer zones are being developed in areas where troops of both nations are mutually withdrawing. A decision on patrolling these areas in the future will be taken within two weeks in the next military-level talks.

So what created this development? How the two nations have agreed to completely disengage from the border flashpoint and ensure a step-by-step de-escalation in the border areas?

Let’s look at the key reasons and major takeaways from the development

1. Ajit Doval played a key role

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval played a key role in the de-escalation of Chinese troops from the border. What did he do? Doval was successful in convincing Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi that a pre-requisite for the de-escalation by the troops of both the nations would be PLA moving back from the area that China is claiming to be theirs. According to a report, both the sides got involved in sharp exchanges during the two-hour video conference but finally came at an agreement. Doval also convinced China is demolishing its structures along the LAC. Experts say that this is the second time that Doval bluntly put across the point to China and made them relent. The first was during the Doklam stand-off. Both Doval and Yi agreed that it was necessary to ensure complete disengagement of troops from the LAC and restore peace.

2. PM Modi’s Ladakh visit gave a strong message

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Ladakh last week and interacted with the troops guarding the international border. Experts feel that the PM’s visit and his general address to the army played a key role in boosting the troops’ morale and giving a strong message to Beijing.

The decision of Modi’s Ladakh visit was kept a secret until the last moment. The entire plan was reportedly developed by Doval along with the top officials of the Indian Army.

3. India has more friends than China

India lined up almost all its friends for building up support along the LAC in a probable war with China. Russia, France, and of course the US which has been volunteering since the beginning to mediate, all supported India in the crisis. This forced China to return to disengagement of troops and maintain friendliness. It is not a surprise in a post-Covid-19 world, India will have more friends than China. During the border crisis with India, none of China’s friends stood by the Dragons. Pakistan was all silent during the entire period. In contrast, India had lined up some of the world’s quickest and voluble players by its side. Some of them are even powerful members of the United Nations Security Council. France last week committed to offering military support to India in case of a war, the US followed the suit and pledged to extend military support if tension escalates between India and China. The US and Germany blocked China’s attempt in the UNSC to pin the blame for the Karachi terror attack in Pakistan on India. Similarly, Russia also agreed to speed up certain missiles and bombs against China when India’s defense minister Rajnath Singh visited Moscow recently.

4. The Galwan clash changed the world

China tried to change the status quo along the LAC in Ladakh through intrusion to the Indian side, but the attempt backfired and it is China who’s been alienated by the world. China had already earned enough bad name in the international forum over allegedly underplaying the Covid-19 pandemic. The Dragons’ design to bully the world through money and muscle power is being challenged now robustly.

We witnessed a world coalition against aggressive China. Australia was concerned over its recent cyber attacks allegedly done by Chinese hackers, the UK was upset over the Hong Kong crisis and even offered to give residency permits to thousands of Hong Kongers, Myanmar sought international support over Chinese aggression towards them.

The examples are many. The assurance or pledge by the US, France, Russia, UK, and Germany to support India to combat the Dragons arise from various factors. And Covid-19 is the biggest factor that made China a common menace to all.

China aggression
Twenty Indian soldiers, including a Colonel, died in the Indo-China violent stand-off in Ladakh. Photo: Shutterstock

5. China’s domestic pressure

China is already reeling under a lot of domestic issues. A huge section of its population blames the Xi Jinping government for “failing” to handle the Covid-19 situation. Soon after the pandemic outbreak, a mass global backlash was built against China. Hundreds of nations accused China of not sharing necessary information about the outbreak at the right time and even understating the gravity of the situation. Covid-19’s outbreak led to a worldwide slowing down of the economy and China itself couldn’t escape it. Lots of people in China as well are losing jobs and facing a great recession. Also, the X Jinping government’s stand over the Hong Kong crisis is also criticized by many Chinese. Imposing a new harsh security law and creating widespread agitation across Hong Kong among other several moves are seen in a bad light by a large number of the Chinese population. Keeping all these domestic factors in mind, China’s aggression along the LAC in Ladakh couldn’t fulfill its objective of expanding its territory. Rather the Xi Jinping government drew more flaks from its own country people for “ruining the Dragons’ image” in the world.

6. Indo-China ties take a huge beating

The Galwan clash marks a new episode of Indo-China relationship. Things will not be the same again. China has deviated from its promises time and again and therefore, it would be hard for India to believe what the Dragons say. Among all the above factors, India’s decision to ban 59 Chinese apps also gives a clear message that India is no longer considering China as its friends. According to experts India’s resistance to China’s expansionism will be a definitive moment for Asia’s geopolitical evolution. If India comes out of the crisis unharmed, it will open new vistas for India over China.


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