Foreign Affairs. Geopolitics. National Security.

Chinese Checkers: Diplomatic outreach by leadership while PLA strengthens its positions in depth areas opposite Eastern Ladakh

Sat, 01 May 2021   |  Reading Time: 2 minutes

The External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar had a phone conversation on Friday evening with the State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, Mr. Wang Yi. The call was arranged at the request of the Chinese side to convey their sympathy and solidarity with India at this juncture of crisis due to the pandemic, press release of MEA stated. India is reeling under the unprecedented second wave of Covid 19 which originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019, putting tremendous pressure on its health infrastructure and other resources.

The External Affairs Minister thanked Foreign Minister Wang Yi for his sentiments and apprised him of the ongoing efforts to meet the challenge posed by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in India. He said that the Government was fully determined to do whatever was necessary to overcome this challenge. External Affairs Minister highlighted in this regard that Indian entities were already in the process of commercially procuring required products and raw materials from suppliers in China. The Minister emphasized that serious challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which had affected all countries, required serious international cooperation.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the COVID-19 as a common enemy of mankind and agreed that there was a need for coordination on a concerted response. He said that China supported the efforts of Government of India and would ensure that all the required materials flow to Indian entities without any delay.

The two Ministers also discussed the outstanding issues related to disengagement from all friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. External Affairs Minister conveyed that while the process of disengagement had commenced earlier this year, it remained unfinished. He emphasized that it was necessary that this process be completed at the earliest. Full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas would enable progress in the bilateral relationship. The two Ministers agreed to continue further dialogue at the official level on this matter.

India and China had reached a five-point agreement to resolve tensions in eastern Ladakh when Mr Jaishankar and Wang met in Moscow in September last year on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conclave. But post disengagement from Pangong Tso, further talks have not yielded desired results with Chinese side altering its position from agreed agenda. It has also been reported by India Today that as India’s Covid-19 crisis gets worse, it has come to light that China has quietly hardened its positions in eastern Ladakh. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of sympathy to Indian PM Narendra Modi over the Covid-19 deaths in the country, saying, “The Chinese side stands ready to strengthen cooperation with the Indian side in fighting the pandemic and provide support and help in this regard. I believe that under the leadership of the Indian Government, the Indian people will surely prevail over the pandemic.” But as always it happens, the diplomatic outreach of Chinese Government is always counterbalanced by the Chinese Army which has quietly reinforced positions located to support the friction areas if necessary.

The new permanent Chinese accommodations built between Kangxiwar, just north of Aksai Chin, and Rudok in Tibet’s Ladakh frontier is a cause for concern and reinforces the assessment that the PLA is here for the long haul. In this context, the early resolution of disputes in other areas like Gogra, Hot Spring and Depsang looks like a distant dream.

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