By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
Yes, it is a real proud scoring moment for India, when China has begun the de-escalation process at Galwan Valley and Pangong Lake frictional points.
But it is no time for India to revel on the glory – the pressure on China has to continue till the Chinese troops withdraw completely to a point of status quo that existed before April 2020.
China, which indulged in unprovoked aggression and caused the June 15, 2020 incident in which India has suffered 20 casualties included an army colonel, cannot be taken lightly.
China has expected in the changed political scenario in the US after the Presidential poll could change its foreign policy which could be either neutral or in favor of Beijing. But that did not happen, instead India’s role has been fortified and got a shot in its arm when President Joe Biden has pronounced the same pro-India foreign policy as has been put out by his predecessors. Thus, China has felt that it is isolated in the world arena. And popularity and support for India in the Asian region and across the world have spiraled up.
China, by its aggression, has over tested the patience of India, to an extent of unleashing out a provocation that could force India to take an initiative towards a war. However, the June 15, 2020 standoff has been China’s first misstep. But tactically, India has exercised utmost caution, while it has fortified its military might along the Line of Actual Control, occupying the pivotal Kailash heights and thus gaining a tactical advantage over the People’s Liberation Army(PLA) soldiers.
While the eighth Corps Commanders-level talks between India and China did not help much to end or ease the tension, the ninth Corps Commanders-level talks, after the new government in the US headed by Joe Biden, that has not deviated from the foreign policy of the previous governments, has brought China on to its knees, which has agreed to initiate de-escalation at the Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso front.
The support India has got at the third foreign ministers conference of Quad countries – India, Japan, Australia and the US — recently has made China to realize that it has been wise to “honorably” resume and quicken the stalled disengagement process of its troops.
The meeting particularly focused on the areas of cooperation to maintain an open, free, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, with a call to China to end its hegemony attitude.
This meeting has been a continuation of the views which were exchanged in the last Quad meeting that was held in Tokyo on October 6, 2020. The first meeting of Quad took place in New York in 2019.
China has also realized the advantageous positions that Indian troops haveoccupied with a heavy armory and tanks along the pivotal places of the Line of Actual Control. Though Chinese troops have vacated patrolling points 4 and 5, disengagement is yet to be taken up at patrolling points 15 and 17A in Hot Springs – Gogra.
In China’s social media, there has been a severe criticism of Chinese leadership, as the Chinese troops have pulled down their many structures they have built and vacated more areas on their side than India has done. Though China has officially announced that five of its soldiers were killed during the June 15, 2020 encounter with the Indian troops, people in China feel that more than 50 of their soldiers were killed. They also feel, the deaths were hushed up and the dead were not even given an honorable burial.
They claim that the morale of their troops has been very low and they lacked fighting spirit as they have not been able to sustain the high altitude life. Whereas, the Indian soldiers have been in great fight spirit and have been well equipped to withstand the high altitude climatic conditions.
Military and civilian experts of India feel, that the Indian troops have ably defended the country’s territory by not allowing the Chinese troops make any inroads. The government of India headed by Narendra Modi and consisting of Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Chiefs of Armed Forces and soldiers have shown extreme valor and national spirit to give a fitting reply to the excesses of the Chinese troops.
The Indian government has increased its defense budget, acquired latest fighter aircraft, military hardware, and yet Indian armed forces and the government have successfully exercised restraint against the Chinese characteristic provocation. India has once again demonstrated that it is a peace-loving country, but it is equally strong enough to face and resist any aggression by its neighbors.
China, which has underestimated India’s military prowess, has realized its own shortcomings. As a strategy, China has, first let out in the world the man-made Covid-19 virus, and as the countries, including India, have since been busy fighting against it, thought it would be an ideal and timely occasion to let its troops out on the India’s northern borders along the Line of Actual Control, particularly in the Ladakh area.
For China, the strategy has proved to be a complete failure. India, on the other hand, has not only been triumphant through its firm but peaceful attitude. Further, India has also gained popularity by supplying the anti-Covid-19 vaccine, even during its difficult times, to several countries of the world.
India has proved that hegemony comes through peace but not through war. The Indian government has been able to successfully silence its own opposing political parties, which have claimed, without any evidence, that India has surrendered vast areas of its territory to China. This allegation has been put forth, despite the government’s rebuttal that India has repeatedly announced that India has not sacrificed even an inch of its territory.
China has been forced to eat its own humble pie. But at the same India cannot be complacent; it should keep its vigil against China, which by its attitude and culture, is not trust-worthy, given its track record.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao