Cheng Xizhong, Special Commentator of China Economic Net, Visiting Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, Senior Fellow of the Charhar Institute, former Chinese Defense Attache in South Asia, former UN Senior Military Observer. [Photo/China Economic Net]
Chinese and Indian border troops held the second round of talks at the level of corps commanders in the border area on June 22. This was the first military-level meeting after the Galwan Valley incident.
China has sent a positive signal about this border meeting. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that by holding this meeting, both sides hope to properly handle differences and manage and ease the situation through dialogue and consultations. "During the talks, the two sides, on the basis of the first commander-level talks, had an in-depth and candid exchange of views on outstanding issues in border control and management systems and agreed to take necessary measures to lower the temperature", Zhao said. Both agreed to keep up dialogue and work together for peace and tranquility on the ground along the border, he said.
On the contrary, India keeps sending negative information, saying that the corps commander meeting was a very tough one and lasted for 11 hours. During the meeting, India put forward some harsh terms, including China’s withdrawal from the north bank of Bangong Lake, and troop reduction from positions deep inside the Chinese side along the border. India also said that the Indian army is ready for an all-round war. It will no longer abide by the relevant agreement that the two militaries will not use hot weapons or sharp cold weapons during the confrontations. It has authorized the field commanders of the Indian army to have “full freedom”in dealing with the Chinese side.
Border tension in need to be eased
Actually, there is not much dispute over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western section of the China-India border. China claims that LAC lies on the southern bank of Bangong Lake while India claims that LAC lies in the middle of Bangong Lake. India has never said that LAC lies on the northern bank of Bangong Lake. Galwan Valley lies on the Chinese side of LAC in the western section of the China-India border. For many years, Chinese border guards have been patrolling and performing their duties normally. Over the years, the border troops of both countries got along well with each other.
The root cause of the serious military stand-off and casualties in Galwan Valley is that India took unilateral actions against the agreements reached by both sides over the years. Last August, India amended its constitution and changed the status of Kashmir. Last October India announced the establishment of "the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir” and “the Union Territory of Ladakh". The so-called "the Union Territory of Ladakh" is subject to China's territory. India’s move has not only broken the peace and tranquility of the China-India border, but also led to the escalation of tensions in South Asia.
Since the beginning of May, there has been military confrontation over Galwan Valley in the western part of the China-India border. It is, in fact, an issue that can be easily dealt with, which is, the Indian troops go back to where they have come from and never come back. On June 6, both countries reached a consensus at the first round of military meeting. However, India broke the agreement and assaulted Chinese troops on June 15. Chinese troops fought back and the vulnerable Indian troops fled in a hurry. In the dark night, they jumped into Galwan River and got drowned. The lives of border forces are precious and China doesn’t want to see such tragedy.
Whether the tensions will be eased after this round of corps commander meeting, and whether the issue of military confrontation in Galwan Valley will be resolved, depends on the follow-up decisions of the Indian government and the follow-up actions of the Indian military.
We sincerely hope that India would learn from this grisly lesson and would not touch the bottom line of China in any way. If the Indian troops invade Galwan Valley again, the Chinese troops will certainly drive them back.
India should exercise strategic sobriety
China and India are the most populous countries in the world with similar historical backgrounds. They are both important emerging economies and committed to economic development and national rise. In recent years, the leaders of China and India have met informally twice and reached important consensus on cooperative development and joint response to global challenges. Although the border issue has not been resolved and there are some border tensions from time to time, the friendly cooperation between China and India has always been the mainstream.
China hopes that India could continue to exercise strategic sobriety, and China's policy has never changed that it does not see India as a foe. The choices of the Narendra Modi administration are very important for the future development of the China-India relationship: will it stick to the past stance of "not choosing sides", or, will it stick to “strategic self-determination”? There is no doubt that this will also be a key consideration when China makes its policies towards India.
Source: China Economic Net (2020/06/27)