The gesture is supposed to cool down tensions before the 14th round of Corps Commander-level talks in Eastern Ladakh
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
The Indian Army (IA) and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exchanged greetings and sweets at 10 locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on January 1, 2022: Karakoram (KK) Pass, Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO), Bottleneck, Kongka La, Chushul Moldo and Demchok in Eastern Ladakh; Nathu La and Kongra La in Sikkim, and; Bum La and Wacha Damai in Arunachal Pradesh.
It is not known whether this was an initiative from the Chinese side or ours but obviously it was coordinated in advance. For example, the KK Pass is the point to which both sides send patrols and the PLA post was seven km to the north of it unless the PLA occupied it during the aggression in May-June 2021 or later. The gesture is supposed to cool down tensions before the 14th round of Corps Commander-level talks in Eastern Ladakh which India had proposed sometime back but the Chinese side is yet to respond to.
It is not known whether this was an initiative from the Chinese side or Indian but obviously it was coordinated in advance
The Indian Army also exchanged sweets on January 1 with Pakistani army soldiers at some places along the Line of Control (LoC). No doubt Pakistan is continuing its proxy war on India but this can hardly be compared to the Chinese aggression of 2020, their intrusions (covered under euphuism of “incursions” or “friction points”) and denying some 1,000 sq km of Indian Territory to our patrols and traditional grazing grounds to locals of Ladakh.
It is interesting to note spin doctors in media saying that with exchange of greetings and sweets on January 1, 2022, New Delhi and Beijing are seeking greater stability in relations. Much is also being made of China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the outgoing Indian ambassador in Beijing Vikram Misri speaking about uninterrupted communication as the silver lining around the dark clouds that engulf bilateral relations. Misri now is our Deputy National Security Adviser. It is courtesy the diplomatic skullduggery by default or design and it is Beijing’s proficiency of channelising our diplomatic vision that has landed us in the situation in Eastern Ladakh, leave aside the Chinese occupation of most of the Doklam Plateau in Bhutan a month after resolving the standoff with the IA in 2017.
If the January 1, 2022 initiative was from the Chinese side, there is no way its aggressive stance will mellow down. There are multiple indications for this.
If the January 1, 2022 initiative was from the Chinese side, there is no way its aggressive stance will mellow down. There are multiple indications for this, some of which include:
If the New Year initiative was from India side, what are we trying to convey? A former army commander has commented that “we are a confused lot”.
On the other hand, if the New Year initiative was from our side, what are we trying to convey? A former army commander has commented that “we are a confused lot”. According to another senior veteran, “So far we have been meek, more of verbal bluster by our Defence Minister and in denial mode of Chinese intrusions; which in turn has been exploited by China. India should learn from Vietnam, who as under dogs, gave China a bloody nose in 1979. Since then China has not dared to take panga with them. Hence being a lesser military or economic power should not be an encumbering factor in our responses.”
But honestly, what are we trying to do? Despite the 2020 Chinese aggression, the January to November 2021 bilateral India-China trade crossed the figure of $100 billion (up 46.4 per cent year-on-year) with an $61.5 billion surplus in China’s favour. This was followed by the ISRO-OPPO India deal that would jeopardize data of the NavIC messaging services. And now this New Year exchange of sweets?
Much that the bureaucrat-diplomats may spin the web, China is and will remain our number one enemy in the foreseeable future
Much that the bureaucrat-diplomats may spin the web, China is and will remain our number one enemy in the foreseeable future. Are we showing our soft side again hoping China does not escalate the situation during the multiple state elections during 2022? How long can we fool ourselves? China continues to build up forces and infrastructure in border areas at brisk pace. Xi Jinping has reversed Deng's philosophy of bide your time and hide your strength.
Many underestimate actions of the Chinese leadership, classifying them conspiracy theories, when the motivation and the exact steps are clearly outlined in the main strategy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But for many foreign scholars, it is not just India, because they won't stop with Arunachal and Ladakh.