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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Explained Ideas: How to keep China at bay

Multiple localised actions on LAC hold key to keeping the PLA in check, argues Arjun Subramanian.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 4, 2020 10:17:09 am
India China news, India China border dispute, Galwan Faceoff, India China border news, Indian Express An Indian sprays black paint on a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest against China, in New Delhi on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (AP Photo: Altaf Qadri)

The talks between the Indian Army and PLA commanders hold the promise of a phased disengagement of forces on the LAC. But considering the reported PLA build-up, it is too early to predict whether this will lead to de-escalation.

But the larger question is: How to keep China at bay?

In his opinion piece in The Indian Express, Arjun Subramaniam, a retired Air Vice Marshal and a military historian, gives several past examples to argue that “localised tactical actions have enormous potential to create strategic effects.”

But he warns that to imagine a single tactical action will deter the PLA is wishful thinking. “India will need to respond at multiple places to send a strong message,” he writes.

The best course of action for both countries, however, would be to get back to fighting Covid-19. “While the window for a limited conflict remains wide open, it is important that both countries plunge back into the battle against COVID-19, more so India, which has less wiggle room than China to tackle multiple crises.”

However, he reminds, should a window appear for a transformative strategy to resolve the boundary problem, India must build on a politico-diplomatic-military-intelligence framework for negotiations.

“Three of the four structures mentioned (diplomatic, military and intelligence) must have faith in one another and commence parallel negotiations at the operational level, feeding into political discussions as they continue at the apex level. Only then can the cobwebs be removed from the very basic issues such as rolling out maps, demarcation, delineation, threat perceptions, and the possibility of give-and-take across the several disputed areas,” he writes.

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