India-China de-escalation: SCO meeting
China has made a proposal regarding ‘de-escalation’ along the line of actual control or LAC that sources said is ‘unusual’.
• China has unilaterally promulgated its 1959 claim line annexing nearly 1,000 square km of Indian territory.
• A counter-intrusion immediately after multiple encroachments were detected – like a Chumar, after Depsang in 2013 – was feasible but not attempted as New Delhi seriously misread Chinese intention, believing Beijing would honour existing protocols and agreements and ultimately vacate aggression, as in the past. But this time around, restoration status quo ante (RSQA) was never on the Chinese mind.
China is willing to go back to Finger 8 in the North Bank of Pangong Tso area, but India has to move back from Finger 4 to between Fingers 2 and 3.
The standoff astride the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh is in a stalemate since the stand-still agreement between military commanders.
There has been no breakthrough in the disengagement and de-escalation process (DDP), which had collapsed soon after the Galwan clash.
Why should India move its troops back?
To move back is a bit difficult for India due to several reasons:
1. India believes its territory extends right up to Finger 8. So, why should it withdraw to behind Finger 3, where there is a military site?
2. There was no restriction on Indian troops in the area before May this year, when the Chinese were at Finger 8. So, why should there be any now.
3. Instead, India has said the Chinese can go back to where they were in early May, to Finger 8. They moved first. They should move back first.
4. There is an enormous trust deficit. Would the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops stay at Finger 8 when India moved its troops back? There is no guarantee at all.
5. There is some talk of a North Bank-South Bank Package Deal: Of a general withdrawal from both banks as China is concerned about the Indian Army holding on to tactically important positions in the South Bank right from Spanggur to Richin La.
6. What India did in late August, reinforcing its positions in the South Bank has worried the Chinese, leading to their creeping up to Indian positions in the dark and firing in the air. This has happened four times.
7. This could be a face-saver China wants, but after what happened in Galwan, India is not keen on giving any face-saver to the Chinese.
8. India's position is clear: China has to go back to its positions to where they were in April this year.
It is important to take a long view of the relationship between India and China, which has been “difficult” in more recent times, but has been “good in many parts” as well. While peace must remain an utmost priority, it should be the responsibility of both the sides to ensure that weather at LAC remains calm.