Flare-up at Tawang marks shortcomings of India’s China diplomacy

Source– The post is based on the article “Flare-up at Tawang marks shortcomings of India’s China diplomacy” published in The Indian Express on 14th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- India and neighbourhood relations

Relevance– India and China relations

News– The article explains the issues of frequent border clashes between India and China.

What has been the Chinese behaviour towards India in recent years?

In 2013, at Depsang in Ladakh, Chinese troops came across the LAC. They pitched tents and refused to move for several weeks until New Delhi threatened to cancel the planned visit of Premier Li Keqiang to India.

In September 2014, the Chinese intruded at Chumar in Ladakh. It happened in the middle of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to India.

In 2017, China provoked India with infrastructure development in Bhutan’s Doklam territory. Finally, in 2020, the Chinese PLA took advantage of pandemic and a lack of Indian military alertness to transgress across multiple locations on the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

The 2005 Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles between the two countries was a landmark treaty on the boundary dispute. It seemed to set benchmarks for the eventual resolution of the boundary dispute.

But in 2006, the Chinese Foreign Minister declared that the status of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh was far from settled. It explicitly contradicts the principles outlined in the 2005 treaty.

What is the Chinese strategy behind these transgressions and subsequent resolution?

Negotiations by China were a strategy for buying time.

China has used the buying time to increase the economic gap between itself and India. In the intervening years, it built up more infrastructure in its border provinces.

It also tried to integrate these regions much more closely with neighbouring economies such as Pakistan and Nepal through grand projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative and pressuring Thimphu to open formal diplomatic ties with Beijing.

The subsequent resolution achieved over several rounds of military-to-military talks after each confrontation between the two sides appears to institutionalise a system of “buffer zones”. It actually undermines the advantages of India’s infrastructure build-up more than they do China’s build-up.

It could be concluded that the Chinese are also setting the pace to a large extent on the resolution of ongoing tensions at the LAC.

What may be the consequences of the current Indian approach?

The kind of approach that allows the general public to ignore the looming China challenge before the country. It allows the Indian military to escape accountability for Galwan, and India from being seen as a credible challenger to China by other countries.

Print Friendly and PDF