Experts believe that the India-China border standoff could further “escalate” if there is a “slippage in talks”. The two countries completed nine rounds of military-level talks but failed to reach a consensus on the disengagement of troops amid reports of China deploying additional tanks and missiles near the Ladakh sector.
The situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, where the Chinese PLA and the Indian Army have been locked in a stand-off since last year’s deadly clash in the Galwan Valley, has not changed much.
According to a video accessed by Indian news agency Times Now, the PLA has continued deploying military assets close to the LAC. The video shows a huge number of Chinese troops, battle tanks, and military trucks lined up near the LAC, the de facto border.
Reports suggest China has undertaken a large-scale deployment of missiles and tanks between Finger 4 and Finger 7 mountainous spurs at Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.
The highly contested region was under Indian control before it was taken over by China in the aftermath of the Galwan Valley clash. It is reported that thousands of troops from both sides have been stationed around the region.
According to BBC, satellite images have revealed that, in recent weeks, China has carried out large-scale military construction in the region, and that there is a presence of new weapons and heavy machinery in the area. The Chinese military has also focused on increasing the number of patrol boats on the lake.
Earlier, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said that the military commanders of the two countries have held nine rounds of talks, “but it is not, in a kind of situation where there is a visible expression of that on the ground”.
R. Tiwari, a professor of international affairs at Delhi University, says it is clear that talks have not yielded any results. According to Tiwai, the main reasons behind the failure of the talks have been the continued militarization on the border and China’s refusal to sit at the negotiation table.
She says that tensions in the region could escalate in the coming days as China deploys additional weapons along the Pangong Tso Lake.
However, she adds that despite the frustrations, there has to be a stress on further dialogue as any slippage could lead to further escalations. “If India and China make any slippage in the talks, tensions are likely to escalate,” said Tiwari.
There have been reports of Beijing laying railway lines at several places on the border for military movement.
#IndiaChina: The origin of the LAC can be traced to the letters written by then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959. Learn more: https://t.co/JH3rUtqzFv pic.twitter.com/kl5MJt1ghC
— ORF (@orfonline) February 3, 2021
It was also reported that China had built a village in Arunachal Pradesh, several kilometers within the Indian territory, causing uproar within the country.
On February 7, Indian Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, General VK Singh (retired), made a sensation remark. He began by saying that China had transgressed several times across the un-demarcated border as per their “perception of the border”.
“Similarly, none of you will come to know how many times we have transgressed as per our perception. Chinese media does not cover it”.
“Let me assure you, if China has transgressed 10 times, we must have done it at least 50 times”.
Reacting to this, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said this was an acknowledgment of encroachment by India.
“This is an unwitting confession by the Indian side. For a long time, the Indian side has conducted frequent acts of trespass in the border area in an attempt to encroach on China’s territory and constantly created disputes and frictions, which is the root cause of the tensions at the China-India border,” Wang said at a briefing.
Amid the increasing military activity on the Chinese side, India has decided to monitor the activities with the help of satellites and automated drones. As per reports, New Delhi is looking to procure state-of-the-art drones from Israel and the US to step up surveillance along the LAC.