By Lt General Dr Mohan Bhandari (Retired)
As the first ever talks at 3-stars level go on, China will try and make it appear that the negotiations are progressing well to ward off external reactions, particularly from the US. The talks at this level are mostly a buffer/delaying mechanism to enable higher echelons ease time pressure, gauge situation and renew course of action. Make no mistakes, the Chinese transgressions have explicit sanction of the CCP.
“Peaceful, stable and balanced relations between India and China would be positive for stability in the current global situation” - Indian Statement by the Ministry of External Affairs after senior officers of both India & China spoke on June 5.
As a beginning, status quo ante may be restored, it cannot be said for sure. May be another stage up may be required since substantial logistical efforts would have been committed by the PLA to stage forward troops and military equipment. China would look for face saving measures.
Quite likely, new Border Protocols (CBMs) may emerge as the ones existing since 1993 have not worked. Pressures of Wuhan Covid-19 connect ad Hong Kong crisis and open accusations of world countries, spearheaded by the US, are good enough reasons for the Dragon to recoil - albeit slowly. It is a big wait and watch for China until the 2020 US elections. China will buy time until that outcome is known.
Outwardly, China cannot adopt a position of submissiveness. It will thwart all the gains made over decades to be a higher echelon super power. Doing so can also result in loss of smaller allies like Nepal and Pakistan. So, it will resist all pressures around Covid-19 Crisis, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and India.
It must be clear that China wants India to tell her that the entire northern borders were developed as a result of imperialistic cartographic aggression and therefore, these are not morally Indian. What a logic and argument?
Well, India needs to be blamed for underestimating Dragon’s susceptibility over the British origin of the border, over her widely publicised interest over Tibet and over the asylum given to Dalai Lama.
Chinese, on the other hand, need to be blamed for their total inability and failure in appreciating India’s stature, free press, freedom of speech, old heritage and the traditions of asylums. China is to be squarely blamed for her bellicose, chauvinistic and expansionist policies. China has been invidious of the rapid Indian growth in all spheres and her growing clout in the comity of nations.
In view of the aforesaid, it would suffice here to state here that the Sino-Indian border problem is not capable of solution by itself.
Seeing the current political scenario, an early settlement of the border problem seems extremely difficult. No hasty decisions can be taken as the imbroglio is multi-dimensional. The border problem needs settlement with matching concessions from either side and not by presenting voluminous data and arguments/counter arguments from either side.
It is China that has to create an atmosphere of trust and necessary confidence to show that they are genuinely interested in a lasting settlement. But, the Dragon is in no hurry. Now, where do you go from here.
(Dr. Mohan Bhandari is the author of books such as ‘Solving Kashmir’, and was the chairman of the Uttarakhand Public Service Commission post his retirement.)