China, which was believed to have pulled back from Indian soil after a belliclose incursion into Galwan two months ago, is persisting with provocations. Indian forces had given a stiff response to China when the latter ventured on some major military move on the south coast of the Pangong Tso Lake in the Ladakh border region last Saturday and Sunday. Spokesperson of Ministry of External affairs Anurag Srivastava has said that China made provocative mililtary movements to alter the status of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and that Indian forces gave fitting reply. He also informed that even as military talks for de-escalation between the two commanders were under way, Chinese side made provocative actions, and the attempt to disturb the status was thwarted with timely defensive steps. At the same time, an AFP report quoting overseas member of Tibetan parliament Lhagyari Namgual Dolkar, said that in the attack on Saturday night, a Tibetan soldier from the Special Frontier Force courted martyrdom. Neither side has, however, so far releaved any details about loss of lives.
The attacks now coming after the Chinese attack in June which led the death of 20 Indian troopers, have resulted in war clouds gathering in the border. In the northern banks of Pangong Tso, the Chinese troops that have entered 8 km inside the western side of Finger 8, that falls within the Indian side of LAC, have not withdrawn from that position. The latest incursion has happened in this situation. The flag meeting at the level of Brigade Commanders for a resolution of the crisis has already taken place in the border at Chushul. In New Delhi, minister of defence Rajnath Singh, foreign minister S Jaishankar, national security adviser Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and Army Chief Gen MM Naravane had an emergency meeting and took stock of the situation. Defence minister Rajnath Singh has also left for Moscow to attend the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation meeting. The event is also being attended by the Chinese foreign minister , but it is not clear if there will be talks on the border issues on its sidelines.
The new turn of events prove that when both countries have been going through diplomatic talks in parallel with hostile positions including boycott of products, the state of confrontation has not eased at all. Although Beijing claims innocence saying no provocations have been made from its side, facts speak otherwise. During last May, both armies had stood face to face in several points of the line of control and finally Indian soldiers were subjected to ruthless Chinese attacks followed by China being invited to talks. India proved that it is not prepared for any compromise and affirmed that it would not let China use India as its main market for Chinese goods. India followed up on this stand by banning 49 Chinese-made apps first and another 118 on Wednesday, plus suspending contracts with Chinese companies and blocking products at Customs posts.
India cannot make concessions on this issue which impinges on its sovereignty. However, the continuing setbacks being suffered in Ladakh prove that the Modi government does not have a firm way forward in handling the matter. The talks held between military commanders and at the level of national security adviser have not yielded concrete results. China has yet to comply with New Delhi's demand that it pull back to the land where it was prior to the conflicts in the borders two months ago.
In the border dispute with Pakistan, India has been able to establish a line of control and get it accepted by the international community. But when it comes to border lines with China, i.e. the Line of Actual Control, that remains a vague line in the realm of claims by both countries. That is why Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said at Paris the other day that in the absence of clear demarcation of borders, issues like the one in Ladakh are likely to continue. And the new infiltration attempt into the southern side of Pangong Tso illustrates that China is trying to capitalise on this lack of definiteness of border and to intensify incursion. Therefore, what the central government has to do is to display the will and diplomatic dexterity to work out an amicable political resolution with Beijing. Real statesmanly skills lie in showing tactics and maneuvres not before internal political adversaries, but to drive away the enemy from outside. At any cost, China cannot be allowed to expand the current incursion into a level that endangers the country's sovereignty and security.