On June 22, China and India held the second round of Corps Commanders’-level meeting. This was the first military-level meeting after the June 15 clash in the Galwan Valley.
The Chinese side sent a positive signal about this meeting. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that by holding the meeting, both China and India hope to properly settle their differences, control the situation, and ease tensions through dialogue and negotiations.
During the meeting, on the basis of the consensus reached in the first Corps Commanders’ meeting, the two sides had a frank and in-depth exchange of views on outstanding issues about the current border control and management systems, and agreed to take necessary measures to cool the situation. The two sides also agreed to continue the dialogue and work together to promote peace and tranquility in the border areas.
However, the Indian media keeps spreading negative information, saying that the Corps Commanders’ meeting was a very tough process which lasted for 11 hours.
During the meeting, the media claims, India had put forward some harsh terms, including withdrawal of Chinese troops from the northern bank of Pangong Lake, reduction of military deployment from positions deep inside the Chinese side. Indian media further mentioned that Indian side also said that their army is ready for an all-round war. It will no longer abide by the agreement that the two sides will not use hot weapons or sharp cold weapons during stand-offs between the two armies. It has authorized field commanders to have "full freedom" in dealing with the Chinese side, the media said.
Some India media even said that the Indian army is constantly strengthening troops along the western section of the China-India border.
Whether tensions will be erased after this round of Corps Commanders’ talks and whether the issue of military confrontation in the Galwan Valley will be resolved, depends on the follow-up decisions of the Indian government and the follow-up actions of the Indian military.
Actually, there is not much dispute over the Line of Actual Control in the western section of the China-India border. China claims that the Line of Actual Control is in the southern bank of Pangong Lake while India claims that the Line of Actual Control is in the middle of Pangong Lake. India has never said that the Line of Actual Control is in the northern bank of Pangong Lake.
The Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control, which has always been under the effective control of China. Over many years, the border troops of both sides have got along in harmony in this area.
The root cause of the serious military stand-off and casualties in the Galwan Valley is that India took unilateral action against the agreements reached by the two sides over the years.
Constitutional changes in Jammu and Kashmir
In August 2019, India amended its constitution and changed the status of Kashmir. In October of the same year, 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” includes a large area actually controlled by China.
The Indian move has not only broken peace and tranquility on the China-India border, but also led to the escalation of tensions in South Asia.
Since the beginning of May, there have been military confrontations over the Galwan Valley in the western part of China-India border. It is, in fact, an issue that can be easily dealt with in the following way: Indian troops will have to go back to their original place and never come back.
In June 6, the two parties had reached a consensus at the first round of military-military meeting. However, India broke the agreement and assaulted Chinese troops on June 15. Chinese troops fought back and vulnerable Indian troops fled in a hurry. In the dark night, they accidentally jumped into the Galwan river and drowned. Border forces’ lives are precious and China doesn’t want to see this kind of tragedy.
We sincerely hope that India would learn from this grisly lesson and would not touch the bottom line in any way. The Chinese nation is determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty. If the Indian troops invade the Galwan Valley again, Chinese troops will certainly drive them back again. The physical conflict on June 15 has showed that the Indian army is not a match for the Chinese army. If the conflict happens again, Indian troops will certainly fail again. So why take risks?
India should Maintain Strategic sobriety
China and India are the most populous countries in the world with similar historical backgrounds. They are both regional and world powers and important emerging market economies and both are committed to economic development and national rejuvenation.
In recent years, the leaders of China and India have met informally twice and reached an important consensus on cooperative development and on joint response to global challenges. Although the border issue has not been resolved and there are some border tensions from time to time, friendly cooperation between China and India has always been the mainstream in the relationships.
When the military stand-off took place in the Galwan Valley, American President Donald Trump publicly stated that the United States is willing to mediate in the dispute between China and India. However, the offer was rejected by the Narendra Modi administration saying that “we two countries have the ability to properly resolve the issue through dialogue and consultations”.
This reflects the real intention of Narendra Modi’s administration which is to avoid escalation of the incident, cool down the situation as soon as possible, not allow the internationalization of the border dispute, and adhere to the policy of "strategic self-determination ".
US attempt calls for vigilance
I have noticed that the American media are particularly interested in the military stand-off in the Galwan Valley. They always try their best to explore the contradictions and differences between China and India, then exaggerate and spread them, hoping to incite an immediate full-scale war between China and India.
When tension was escalating on the China-India border, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly accused China of creating border tensions. For many years, the United States has been trying to woo India into an "anti-China partnership". At the same time, some Indian media and strategists have offered advice and suggestions and called on the Narendra Modi administration to reset its foreign policy to "establish stronger relations with the United States to jointly deal with China”.
Recently, due to the military stand-off between China and India, nationalist sentiments are rising in India. Indian people are trying to boycott Chinese goods in some parts of India. Some Indian enterprises have suspended cooperation with Chinese enterprises.
This is an opportunity’ for the United States to"exploit the state of affairs" and make India join its anti-China Camp strategically. Next, the US will step up its efforts to throw in more temptations and push New Delhi to keep pace with Washington in its anti-China policy.
For India, America is far away, while China is a neighbour. China hopes that India would continue to maintain strategic sobriety. China does not see India as a foe and this has never changed. The choices which the Narendra Modi administration makes are very important for the future development of the China-India relationship: Will the Modi-government 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 policy towards India.
Source: Southasian Monitor 2020/06/26