The military gap between India and China is growing steadily.
Clearly, China's negotiating strategy is to resolve the dispute when the Chinese are in a much stronger position in terms of comprehensive national strength so that they can dictate terms, says Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd).
A 50-strong Chinese patrol crossed the Line of Actual Control in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector of Ladakh last week and pitched tents 10 km inside Indian territory.
Attempts made by the government to get the area vacated through the mechanism for confidence building have so far been unsuccessful. It has been reported that there have been 600 border violations by China since 2010.
Illegal Occupation of Indian Territory
China has been in illegal occupation of large areas of Indian territory since the mid-1950s.
In Aksai Chin, which is part of Ladakh, China is in physical possession of approximately 38,000 square kilometres (sq km) of Indian territory. In addition, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in the Shaksgam Valley of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, north-west of the Siachen Glacier, to China in 1963 under a boundary agreement that India does not recognise.
Through this area, China built the Karakoram highway that now provides a strategic land link between Xingjian and Pakistan. There is now talk of Pakistan leasing the Northern Areas of Gilgit-Baltistan to China for development and the exploitation of natural resources.
China continues to stake its claim to about 96,000 sq km of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls Southern Tibet. The then Chinese ambassador Sun Yuxi in New Delhi had reiterated this claim before President Hu Jintao's visit in November 2006.
Since then, Chinese interlocutors have claimed several times that the Tawang Tract is part of Tibet. It has been implied that the merger of this area with Tibet is non-negotiable.
China has often stated official position is that the reunification of Chinese territories is a sacred duty. At the last Communist Party of China party congress, four resolutions mention the unification of China's lost territories.
More new projects have been sanctioned by China's Central Military Commission after the party congress for an enhanced military build up in case of any hostility.
China has already amassed a large number of troops in Tibet and constructed the metalled Western Express Highway as well as the world's highest railway line which will enable faster mobilisation of troops from Gansu and Qinghai region in case of war.
The PLA has constructed two major missile bases in Tibet and deployed missiles that can reach major targets in India.
Demarcation of the Line of Actual Control
It is not so well known that the Line of Actual Control between India and Tibet, implying de facto control after the 1962 war, is yet to be physically demarcated on the ground and delineated on military maps.
The LAC is quite different from the disputed 4,056 km-long boundary between India and Tibet. The un-delineated LAC is a major destabilising factor as incidents such as the Nathu La clash of 1967 and the Wang Dung stand-off of 1986 can recur.
The only positive development has been that after over a dozen meetings of the Joint Working Group and the Experts Group, maps showing the respective versions of the two armies have been exchanged for the least contentious Central Sector of the LAC, that is, the Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh borders with Tibet, where no fighting had taken place in 1962. It clearly shows how intractable the challenge is.
Early in 2005, India and China had agreed to identify 'guiding principles and parameters' for a political solution to the decades-old dispute. Many foreign policy analysts had hailed it as a great leap forward.
This was not the first time that India signed a 'feel-good' agreement with the Chinese. The Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement signed with the Chinese in 1993 and the agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the military field signed in 1996