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Why the analysis behind the latest Chinese transgression in Arunachal Pradesh is misleading

According to media reports, more than 250 soldiers of the Chinese army intruded into the Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh on June 9

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: June 14, 2016 10:56:04 am
china, india NSG, china NSG, chinese army, chinese army intrusion, india china conflict, arunachal pradesh, chinese army arunachal, East Tawang, yangtze Indian and Chinese Army during the parade on the fourth India-China joint military training exercise Hand -in-Hand at Aundh military station. (Express Photo by Arul Horizon)

According to media reports, more than 250 soldiers of the Chinese army intruded into the Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh on June 9. This transgression took place in Yangtze area of East Tawang and lasted for a few hours. There were no reports of a conflict between the Chinese and the Indian soldiers. Many analysts tried to place this transgression in the context of China opposing India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and India-US-Japan conducting their annual naval exercise, Malabar.

Going by the history of Chinese transgression in that area, this analysis is plain misleading. Situated at a height of 14,000 feet, Yangtze ranges are dominated by the Indian soldiers deployed there. When the Chinese soldiers start their four-hour long climb up the mountains, the Indian Army soldiers can observe them immediately. The standard drill is for two companies of Indian soldiers to move forward and deploy themselves, in what becomes an eyeball-to-eyeball situation. The Chinese stay there for a few hours, and then go back as they have to trek down the mountains before sunset. Things go back to status quo. As per defence sources, this usually happens twice a year.

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What transpired on the 9th was no different from the earlier instances. Differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China has meant that the two sides allege that the other is patrolling in their territory. India has offered to delineate the LAC — most recently, during defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to China — but the Chinese have not reciprocated. Beijing is worried that agreeing to a LAC could influence their final territorial claims. New Delhi has meanwhile tried to find a way to prevent tensions by creating more mechanisms between the two militaries at the border. They have been largely effective so far.

While this particular transgression may have been “routine”, it does not mean that every single Chinese action in the future will be so. It needs to be understood that India’s increasing proximity with the US could lead to reactions from China, which might not be to India’s liking. The best course of action is to prevent such situations from developing. That is in both India’s and China’s best interests.

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