A fresh clash in Ladakh between Bharatiya and Chinese forces has been reported on the night of 29/30 August 2020. The clash happened on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake. A press release by Army PRO, Col Aman Anand on Press Information bureau confirmed the clash.
According to the official reports, “PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo at the Line of Actual Control.”
The Bharatiya troops pre-empted this manoeuvre by People’s Liberation Army and also undertook measures to strengthen Bharatiya positions. The Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground was successfully thwarted by the Bhartaiya Army.
The press release maintained that the Bharatiya Army is committed to maintain peace and tranquility through dialogue. The army also expressed its determination to protect its territorial integrity, in case things escalate. As of writing this, a Brigade Commander level Flag Meeting is in progress at Chushul to resolve the issues.
Both the armies had clashed recently in Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh in mid June. The bloody battle, fought without firearms, had resulted in 20 Bharatiya soldiers attaining veergati and heavy casualties on Chinese side. The situation at the Line of Actual Control has been volatile since early May this year when China started a troop buildup.
As of now, Bharat has scaled up its armed presence at the border and also deployed assets to prepare for any major clash. These includes the recently acquired Rafales, attack helicopters and various other defence platforms. According to defence analysts, army has also stocked up provisions for a long and possibly militarily hot winter ahead.
China’s aims and claims
China’s newfound aggressiveness in Eastern Ladakh is a result of its vulnerability on the Bharatiya border as well as its falling international goodwill. It has been engaged in a military standoff in South China Sea, Japan, Taiwan and also with Bharat. The COVID crisis, which originated in China has eroded its influence in the global community.
Its border with Bharat is particularly vulnerable and there are multiple reasons that it is in a weaker position in the area. However, it is also anxious to protect its line of communication, i.e. China National Highway 219, with Xinjiang, which is quite close to Bhartiya border and indeed passes through China occupied Ladakh. Infact, it also passes close by Pangong Tso, the site of fresh clashes.
It must also be realized that legally there is no international border between China and Pakistan. Both are able to connect only through the part of Ladakh that is under illegal occupation of Pakistan as well as China.
China aims to build the China Pakistan Economic corridor through the occupied Bharatiya territory and Bharat has raised protests on the issue. The major goal of China is to secure access to Arabian sea through Pakistan. It thinks that this will save its trade in case of war with Bharat. Currently, majority of its trade passes through Indian Ocean, in which Bharat enjoys a preeminent position.
Chinese attempts to occupy more Bharatiya territory is a product of its anxiety to protect its trade and communication routes. In recent times, the government has shown commitment to recapture our lost territory, and it has probably raised a few alarms in Chinese government and armed forces.
However, the path they have chosen is fraught with grave dangers for regional peace. Their CPEC does not guarantee security for trade in case of war simply because trade will still have to pass quite near to Bharatiya borders. This includes Gwadar port as well as National Highway 219.
It is probably this realisation that is pushing it to try and scare Bharat into inaction. However, the Bharat of 2020 is very different from Bharat of 1962. Indeed, Bharatiya armed forces have given Chinese a bloody nose in 1967, 1987 and recently in June. With political will of government behind the Bharatiya armed forces, China would be hard put to achieve its aims in Ladakh.
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