Ongoing developments in India China relations are indicating that differences that had manifested over a period and accelerated in April last year in Eastern Ladakh are escalating into disputes. Here are a few pointers from differences in the 13th Round of Senior Commanders talks to faceoffs, circulation of videos of last years Galwan incident and so on
India China 13th Round of Senior Commanders Talks
The 13th round of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting was held at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on 10th October 2021. During the meeting the discussions between the two sides focussed on resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
The Ministry of External Affairs Press release highlighted that the Indian side pointed out that the situation along the LAC had been caused by unilateral attempts of Chinese side to alter the status quo and in violation of the bilateral agreements. It was therefore necessary that the Chinese side take appropriate steps in the remaining areas so as to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector. This would also be in accord with the guidance provided by the two Foreign Ministers in their recent meeting in Dushanbe where they had agreed that the two sides should resolve the remaining issues at the earliest.
The Indian side emphasised such resolution of the remaining areas would facilitate progress in the bilateral relations.
During the meeting, the Indian side therefore made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals as per the Ministry of External Affairs Press Release thus the meeting did not result in resolution of the remaining areas.
Chinese PLA statement on the 13th Round of India China Talks
The spokesperson of the Western Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in his remarks on the 13th round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting held on October 10 at the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point on the Chinese side claimed that on October 11, “Chinese side made great efforts to promote the easing and cooling of the border situation and fully demonstrated China’s sincerity of maintaining overall interests of bilateral military relations. However, the Indian side still persisted in its unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which added difficulties to the negotiations”.
“Instead of misjudging the situation, the Indian side should cherish the hard-won situation in China-India border areas,” said Senior Colonel Long Shaohua the spokesperson.
The spokesperson pointed out that China is firm in its resolve to safeguard national sovereignty. He hoped that the Indian side should avoid misjudging the situation and cherish the hard-won situation in the China-India border areas.
The Indian side should abide by the relevant agreements and consensus reached between the two countries and two militaries, show sincerity and take concrete actions to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the border areas with China, the spokesperson added.
Conclusion on 13th Round Talks
Evidently as both sides are stuck on their respective approaches and are refusing to budge, winter deployment of the PLA and the Indian Army on the LAC is inevitable.
Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, referring to the military buildup and infrastructure development by the People’s Liberation Army across the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC). “It is a matter of concern that the large-scale buildup that occurred last year (when the border row erupted) continues to be in place,” the army chief said. “To sustain that kind of buildup, there has been an equal amount of infrastructure development on the Chinese side. It means that they are there to stay. We are keeping a close watch on the developments. But if they are there to stay, we are there to stay too,” he said.
In addition he added that in case the Chinese are in a LAC like situation, then India will also be ready to operate in a Line of Control (LoC) environment that existed with Pakistan with frequent attempts at conduct of firing.
“If they continue to stay there for the second winter, it will definitely mean we will be in Line of Control (LoC) kind of situation (referring to the Indian and Pakistani deployments on the LoC), though not an active LoC as is there on the western front. We will have to keep a close eye on PLA troop buildup and deployments to ensure they don’t get into any misadventure once again,” Naravane said.
Objections by China To Vice President’s Visit to Arunachal Pradesh
In response to a media query about Chinese MFA spokesperson’s comments on the recent visit of Hon’ble Vice-President of India to Arunachal Pradesh, the Official Spokesperson Shri Arindam Bagchi said on October 13th, "We have noted the comments made today by the Chinese official spokesperson. We reject such comments. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. Indian leaders routinely travel to the state of Arunachal Pradesh as they do to any other state of India. Objecting to the visit of Indian leaders to a state of India does not stand to reason and understanding of Indian people”.
The spokesperson with reference to the boundary differences added on October 13th that, “Further, as we have mentioned earlier, the current situation along the LAC in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas has been caused by unilateral attempts of Chinese side to alter the status quo in violation of the bilateral agreements. Therefore, we expect the Chinese side to work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols rather than trying to link unrelated issues.”
India China Face Off Other Sectors
Apart from Eastern Ladakh, Indian and Chinese troops were locked in a “face-off” in Arunachal Pradesh.
Meanwhile 100 Chinese soldiers transgressed 5km across the Line of Actual Control in the Barahoti sector of Uttarakhand on August 30 and damaged a wooden bridge before retreating.
The main opposition party the Indian National Congress has questioned the government silence on a video released by the Chinese that purportedly shows injured Indian soldiers in their captivity after the Galwan Valley.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera asked the government that purportedly shows “our braveheart soldiers injured and in captivity of the Chinese” stated that this had deeply disturbed every Indian. “The silence by our government on the veracity of this video is mind-boggling. If this video is genuine, then by all standards, this would fall within the category of war crimes for which China is definitely liable for prosecution under the International Criminal Court,” the Congress spokesperson said.
“Instead of patting each other’s back, the Prime Minister and the home minister of India should ensure that China is held globally accountable for indulging in war crimes against our brave hearts,” Khera added.
Army Demonstrates Surveillance by Drones
Indian Army’s aviation base in Arunachal Pradesh demonstrated capabilities of the Israel-origin Heron drones in detail. Base official, Major Karthik Garg said, “This is the most beautiful aircraft as far as surveillance resources are concerned. Since its inception, it has been the backbone of surveillance. It can climb up to 30,000 feet and continue to relay feed to commanders on the ground. So that, we can manoeuver forces on the ground. It has an endurance of 24- 30 hours at a stretch.” Major Garg added, “We have day and night cameras and for bad weather, we have synthetic aperture radar which can give track of entire terrain.” The Made in Israel, Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is a medium-altitude UAV and can carry up to 250 kg of weight including a thermographic camera, airborne ground surveillance visible light, radar systems, etc. The Heron UAV is capable of returning to base autonomously in case of lost communication and thus is being extensively used for surveillance of the India China border in the areas of Arunachal Pradesh an extreme high altitude terrain where movement on the surface by patrols and other groups is difficult and time consuming.
Thus monitoring an intrusion by China physically is difficult denoting increasing use of drones by the Indian Army for this purpose. 90 Heron drones of the three services - Indian Air Force (IAF), Indian Army, and the Indian Navy are also being upgraded with laser-guided bombs, air to ground, and air-launched anti-tank guided missiles. This project is in the last stage of decision-making.