City Sunday

Irreconcilable differences

The gory events that took place at the Galwan stand-off point (PP 14) on the evening of June 15 and carried on late into the night have exposed the barbaric tendencies of the Chinese army. Throwing all treaties and conventions to the wind, they attacked the unsuspecting  Commanding Officer (CO) of an Indian Army unit with iron rods, chains, baseball bats covered with spikes and barbed wires and gloves fitted with iron spikes. This led to a brawl that resulted in heavy casualties on both sides.

One thing is certain, that the attack by the Chinese was unprovoked, premeditated and had the blessings of senior commanders. It cannot be brushed off as the work of a local commander obsessed with the Chinese movie Wolf Warrior. It was a clear case of betrayal of faith by the Chinese after having agreed to certain pullbacks as part of an overall de-escalation plan that would have led to an end to the stand-off between the two armies in eastern Ladakh. What prompted the Chinese to resort to such treachery is a matter of conjecture but it is definitely driven by its “Middle Kingdom” syndrome.

The devious Chinese mindset can be gauged from the contents of an article published in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece, Global Times. “India has been building extensive infrastructure facilities along the border and forcibly built part of the facilities on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) regardless of bilateral divergences over the border disputes. The two sides went into repeated physical clashes as Chinese soldiers tried to stop their Indian counterparts.” This is a blatant lie since there has never been any dispute in the perception of the LAC between the two armies in the Galwan Valley sector. The Chinese had never crossed the LAC here. The Global Times version is a cover-up as it is at variance with the earlier statement issued by the spokesperson of the Western Theatre Command of PLA. It would be pertinent to mention here that India is building a road up to PP14, which is well within its territory.

The article highlights Chinese anxiety and fear. It reads, “The arrogance and recklessness of the Indian side is the main reason for the consistent tensions along China-India borders. In recent years, New Delhi has adopted a tough stance on border issues, which is mainly resulted from two misjudgements. It believes that China does not want to sour relations with India because of increasing strategic pressure from the US, therefore China lacks the will to hit back provocations from the Indian side. In addition, some Indian people mistakenly believe their country’s military is more powerful than China’s. These misrepresentations affect the rationality of Indian opinion and add pressure to India’s China policy.” This article is a reinforcement of China’s “neighbourhood bully” image. The Chinese leadership believes in, “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” The global community has not forgotten how China bullied its way into the South China Sea (SCS) despite an international tribunal’s verdict to the contrary and has since declared an SCS District. This is a classic example of China’s cartographic aggression, a legacy of the Middle Kingdom.

China’s attempts in Ladakh are similar, a well-planned and coordinated cartographic invasion beginning with the forcible occupation of Aksai Chin in the late fifties, retention of territories occupied in 1962, annexing Shaksgam Valley through an agreement with Pakistan and thereafter frequent forays into Ladakh to lay claim on the grazing grounds of local Mons. China is well-known for shifting stances, mixing the past and present with a motive for the future and throwing all bilateral agreements to the wind. Putting together various threads available, it appears that as part of the agreement reached during the Corps Commander level meeting held on June 6, the Chinese troops opposite PP14 were required to move further eastwards to their base called Post 1. It may be recalled that the Chinese have built two posts namely Post 2 and Post 1 along the bank of Galwan River after it takes a turn and runs almost parallel to the LAC well within the Chinese territory before it enters India at PP14.

They have also built a road up to Post 1. The entire process was required to be completed within 10 days ending on June 15. The Chinese were to begin the thinning out since they had begun the build-up. The Indian CO and his platoon had gone to oversee the de-escalation process, it being the last day for the Chinese pullback. During the talks, the Chinese soldiers attacked the CO with spiked rods and baseball bats. Indian troops rushed to the scene and the brawl took an ugly turn. After the initial casualties, there was no backing down from either side. The scene of the clash was a narrow ledge with a deep ravine. Reinforcements arrived and the mayhem continued well into the night at those icy heights in the open. It was the Chinese side which broke all agreements, conventions and treaties in a barbaric manner. But as expected of the Chinese, they shifted the entire blame on the Indian side.

The fact that the Chinese action was premeditated and had the blessings of the higher military commanders can be substantiated from the fact that the spokesperson of the Western Theatre Command issued a press note. It reads, “China always owns sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region, and the Indian border defence troops are inconsistent with their words and seriously violated the agreements both countries have reached, the consensus made during the army commander-level talks and harmed the relations of the two militaries and the feelings of the two countries’ peoples. India should stop all provocative actions, meet the Chinese side halfway and come back to the right path of solving disputes through talks.” One only needs to compare this statement to the Global Times article to understand how China is trying to change the entire narrative by shifting the blame on India. China was still looking for a face-saving strategy to get out of the Coronavirus mess when it has landed into another global embarrassment with a faulty notion of having embarrassed India. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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