'This was Indian land the PLA advanced on and occupied.'
'The Chinese then 'negotiated' a pullback of their troops a small distance on Indian territory even as Indian jawans draw back further into India from the forward position.'
'An apparently satisfied Indian government says this is a great move for peace! How great is that for China!'
"This is only a shallow disengagement conceded for immediate political gain, namely, Modi's presence at the SCO heads of government meeting," Dr Bharat Karnad, the national security expert at the Centre for Policy Research, the New Delhi-based think-tank, tells Rediff.com's Senior Contributor Rashme Sehgal.
"It is neither a permanent withdrawal nor the harbinger of a more enduring arrangement and, even less, a first step in the process of formally delineating a boundary which does not serve Beijing's purpose," he adds.
How far can the present Gogra disengagement be seen as a positive step, breaking of the gridlock as it were, or is it being done keeping the SCO meet in mind?
This disengagement, while good in itself in that it reduces the possibility of armed units of the two sides coming quite literally to blows with proximal patrolling, is essentially a Chinese attempt to see the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit mid-September pass off without incident.
It also seems like a placatory or even an incentivising move to ensure Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the heads of government meeting.
Beijing continues to claim that the April 2020 status quo is a result of India's illegal crossing of the Line of Actual Control and is therefore not acceptable to China.
This is the offensive negotiating strategy Beijing has always adopted in a nutshell -- claim that because it is India that has intruded into Chinese territory, it is Indian troops that need to vacate all the land they have illegally occupied or encroached upon, thereby reinforcing its claims on Indian territory.
And because, the MEA/Indian government never asserts its own position in equally blunt manner, in the optics of this confrontation, it is India that ends up looking like the aggressor!
Will this disengagement which incidentally only involves only the going back of 50 troops on both sides lead to greater de-escalation of troops or is this only another ploy by the Chinese?
The first thing to keep in mind is that this withdrawal by both sides is happening on Indian territory!
This was Indian land the PLA advanced on and occupied. The Chinese then 'negotiated' a pullback of their troops a small distance on Indian territory even as Indian jawans draw back further into India from the forward position.
An apparently satisfied Indian government says this is a great move for peace! How great is that for China!
In any case, this is only a shallow disengagement conceded by the Chinese for immediate political gain, namely, Modi's presence at the SCO heads of government meeting in Samarkand.
It is neither a permanent withdrawal nor the harbinger of a more enduring arrangement and, even less, a first step in the process of formally delineating a boundary which does not serve Beijing's purpose.
It is better to keep the dispute on simmer, bring the situation occasionally to boil, and keep India on the hook,
The Depsang Plains area remains a critical flashpoint. This area has seen massive deployment and buildup of Chinese troops since May 2020. Do you see any signs of this being resolved.
No. Because the capture of the Depsang Bulge is critical in military geography terms to the People's Liberation Army holding on to -- and thus denying to India -- the vast border frontage northeast of the Y-Junction, on the northern shore of the Shyok river and adjoining the southern Tibet area through which passes the Xinjiang Highway (GS 219).
The significance here is that the GS 219 bifurcates at the Karakoram Pass to become the arterial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor terminating in the warm water port of Gwadar on the Balochistan coast.
Were India to retake this sub-sector on the Line of Actual Control, it would have a stranglehold on the highway -- the lifeline to Xinjiang, and the Karakorum Pass, which China will not allow.
Hence, the PLA will never pull back from its foward position in the Depsang Plains.
The Chinese army continues to block the Indian Army to their traditional PPs 10,11,12,13 since April 2020 having moved 18 km inside what India considers to be its own territory...
Because all these patrolling points are in the area northeast of the Y-Junction pivotal, for reasons alluded to in my response to the previous question, to the PLA and China.
The basic problem for India has always been to hold the nearly 500 km-long line -- Daulat Beg Oldi-Demchok in the Depsang Plains, in which mission the army has manifestly failed, losing ground over the years in small parcels until now when the PLA has annexed and absorbed some 1,000 sq kms in this whole sub-sector.
If Modi-Jaishankar (Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar) somehow get President Xi Jinping to agree to a 'restoration of the status quo ante' involving this piece of territory, it will be a very tremendous diplomatic feat.
The Chinese have built massive infrastructure in eastern Ladakh which includes a key bridge in the Pangong Tso area. Also, they have doubled the deployment of fighter aircraft in the Eastern Ladakh sector.
What has our response been to this?
The Pangong bridge constructed on the north shore to connect their garrisons in the Khurnak Fort area to Moldo will cut the PLA forces's transit time from one to the other area from a couple of days to only a few hours.
And the PLA Air Force bases have gone up from three to 30 in the southern Tibet region, and increased deployment from some 30 combat aircraft to reportedly as many as 300 combat aircraft.
The IAF's response, insofar as what can be made out, is the occasional aircraft sortie along the southern Pangong Lake shore with extreme care taken to offer the PLAAF no provocation. This is in reaction to the PLA Air Force combat aircraft flying well beyond the Line of Actual Control into Indian territory almost at will and unmolested by IAF.
China is not at all happy to see the growing closeness developing between Japan and India on military matters including conducting joint military drills and advancing their security relationship.
I have always maintained that China and the PLA are spooked by two countries: Vietnam, who gave the PLA a bloody hiding in 1979 when they deigned to invade northern Vietnam to, what else, 'teach Hanoi a lesson' and instead were taught one.
It was an embarrassing defeat and the PLA hightailed it out of the battle areas.
And the other is a militarised Japan.
The 'rape of Nanjing' and the horrors committed against the Chinese population by the Japanese imperial land forces have so seared the Chinese consciousness, Beijing still has nightmares.
And so I have long advocated that India should do every thing possible to stoke these Chinese fears.
It ought to urge Tokyo rapidly to build up militarily -- a process already initiated by the late prime minister Abe Shinzo, and offer strategic nuclear cooperation with Japan in whatever form (and to Taiwan).
And nuclear missile arm Vietnam as payback for Beijing's equipping Pakistan with nuclear missiles.
However, a frightened and perennially fearful Delhi to date has only agreed, minorly, to transferring the Brahmos crusie missile to Vietnam and then it is taking all the time in the world to do so.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com