BENGALURU: After days of heightened tension in eastern Ladakh between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Pangong Tso lake and Galwan river, “the troops on both sides have moved back a little on Thursday morning marking the first ice breaker in the ongoing India-China standoff at the Galwan Valley,” said Lt Gen Abhay Krishna (Retd).
“Today, the troops on both sides have relocated themselves a little away from each other, essentially to ensure that there is no round-the-clock physical or eyeball to eyeball contact. It is a positive move. On June 6 talks at the level of Lieutenant Generals from both sides will be held, which will give a clear indication that the ongoing situation has made a positive beginning of the process of de-escalation and will now be treated as a local issue.
It’s a clear signal by Beijing that the onus of resolving the issue has now been delegated to the local commanders,” he said. Speaking about the escalation, he said “the terrain dynamics is such that the Army cannot be deployed everywhere like sentries to hold ground physically, and thus there are areas or pockets of geographical segments, which are covered by troops regularly patrolling in those areas.” He explained that Army patrolling happens at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by both India and China during summers, when the snow melts.
“This time the Chinese troops reportedly came in little deeper in larger numbers and decided to camp at the patrolling site. The PLA has been carrying intrusions in disputed area on and off all along the LAC every year just to reemphasise their claim on such pieces of land belonging to them as per their claimed perception. They are always pushed back by our patrols.
But the present intrusion is not a usual phenomenon and this time it appears more as a sign of aggression against India’s construction of its infrastructure, the Durbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi Road, in particular, which runs more or less parallel to the LAC and improves our access to the Karakoram Highway,” the Lt General said.
“China has been sitting on Aksai Chin for years, which is actually a part of Ladakh and is a critical link between Xinjiang and Tibet. China’s western highway passes through this. China has aggressively opposed the re-organisation of Jammu and Kashmir and declaration of Ladakh as Union Territory by the Indian Government last year because it perceives this move as India’s attempt to eventually reclaim control of Aksai Chin and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” he said.
“The recent Sino-Indian standoff has the backdrop of the road construction, which has been undertaken by India. Topographically, China has enjoyed a superior position in the region as they have had the advantage of a bird’s-eye view. The areas under Indian control are in low-lying regions and thus it’s easy for Chinese troops to keep an eye on Indian movements.
Chinese have also been uncomfortable about any construction undertaken by India,” said Dr Gunjan Singh, research scholar on Chinese Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Fixing a working LAC is possible but not an easy step. The two sides have excellent border management protocol and why that is not working needs to be examined. China has objected to any upgradation of Indian infrastructure projects at the LAC since 2012,” said Dr Avinash Godbole, assistant professor, Chinese Studies & International Relations at the OP Jindal Global University.