While interference in North Sikkim was resolved locally, under mutually agreed protocols, those in East Ladakh were retained, prompting speculation about Chinese intentions.
At the strategic and operational level, both soldiers were restrained. However, at the tactical level, confrontations arise due to different understandings of where the real limit is because the LAC is not underlined on the ground. While confrontations are resolved locally, those related to infrastructure construction, such as roads and defense fortifications, always require a longer period of time and require a combination of military and diplomatic initiatives.
Faced with countless internal and external challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, China can afford to take any risky adventures in the Himalayas. The conflict with India, its main regional strategic competitor, will not only complicate its problems, but will seriously hamper its stated journey towards a global superpower by 2050. Some of the challenges Xi Jinping faces today include China’s contract economy, its re- a preoccupied trade war with the US, giving up production and slowing down its ambitious belt and road initiative. The protests in Hong Kong, the mysterious intransigence and the global demand to investigate its role in the coronavirus pandemic have also added to the problems.
Moreover, by banning Pakistan, which is its strategic all-weather partner in the region, Beijing’s persistent behavior along with its alleged pandemic-related role has created an anti-Chinese mood in Asian countries that has assisted friendship as part of its strategy to suppress India. India would make good use of this to its advantage.
China is aware of the current combat potential of the Indian military and has seen it develop in a responsible, accountable and strong element of national power since the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, across the still disputed Himalayan border. Both armies have been training together for many years to develop interoperability for humanitarian aid, disaster relief and counter-terrorism operations. Understanding each other in military capability helps to deter each other because each side understands the dark consequences of the conflict. India, under its current political leadership, has shown its propensity to use force when provoked. The volatile and complex proxy war arena of Jammu and Kashmir has further helped the Indian military to strengthen its troops.
While conflict is a further possibility in the near future, India must seriously continue to develop its military capability to deter aggression and, if it fails, fight to win wars for the country. Relying on any outside force to fight the wars in India is certainly not a good idea. As a great emerging power, India must carry its own great staff.
But for greater economic and geostrategic gains, a peaceful solution is the answer. There is enough space in the world for two Asian giants to grow at the same time.