Simmered Challenge | Indian express

China and India are set to meet on Wednesday for a new round of border talks in eastern Ladakh in the shadow of unsatisfying developments. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is built on part of Lake Pangong, which, while being on the Chinese side of the LAC, has implications for India’s defense of its territory. Meanwhile, Beijing has also “standardized” the names of several places in Arunachal Pradesh, giving them Chinese names. Then, a young diplomat from the Chinese Embassy in Delhi criticized Indian parliamentarians for attending an event related to Tibet. While 13 previous rounds of talks between the Indian Army and PLA ground commanders resulted in a disengagement in Pangong and Gogra, an early agreement for disengagement in Hot Springs could not take place. Moreover, the tensions that persisted throughout the LAC, including the rise of the Chinese in the western sector of the contested line, offer no solace. Until the two sides can resolve differences in the strategic Depsang area, where Indian troops are barred from accessing traditional patrol points, de-escalation will remain elusive. The construction of the Pangong Bridge is an indication that Beijing is in fact preparing for a long haul. Beijing is also building other roads and bridges and beefing up military infrastructure, all from its LAC side, but certainly not a sign that two countries are heading towards a resolution.

Last week, the Foreign Ministry denounced the “normalization” of names in Arunachal as “ridiculous,” and rightly said it would not change the fact that Arunachal is an inalienable part of India. He also berated the Chinese embassy for “making noise about the normal activities” of Indian parliamentarians. Significantly, he described the new bridge as a construction on Indian territory that China had “illegally occupied” during the 1962 war, stating that India had “never accepted such an illegal occupation.” That it took days for Delhi to break its silence on these issues, however, is puzzling. Now that that is done, the real question is how India is going to handle China’s increased military activity along the LAC, other than clearing it from areas that Delhi says are illegally occupied.

It is not easy to deal with a powerful neighbor who has unilaterally rejected three decades of agreements that paved the way for settling the border problem. Oddly enough, the country’s political leaders, who typically project global influence with hashtag diplomacy, are yet to fully own the crisis with China, which is the first step in dealing with it more head-on.

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