[Editorial Analysis] Cautious, but firm: on India-China stand-off

Mains Paper 3: Defense and Security
Prelims level: India-China stand-off
Mains level: Security challenges and their management in border areas

Context:

• After weeks of more diplomatic wording, the statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on June 26 appears to signal that patience in dealing with Beijing is reaching a dead end.

• The statement said publicly, for the first time since reports of the stand-off, that the Chinese build-up and clashes with Indian troops, including the Galwan Valley incident on June 15, had a “larger context”.

Shift from the past:

• The previous statements alluded to the clashes in May as quite routine, and borne from “differences in perception” of the LAC,

• Moving away from previous statements, the MEA said that PLA behaviour “this year” was a shift from the past.

• It also admitted that the Chinese side had built up a large armed presence since early May, making it clear that India’s strategic establishment has had much to worry about.

• There are other shifts of note.

• Each of the MEA’s several references to the situation at LAC in May and June had mentioned dialogue as the way forward.

• But its latest statement makes it clear that it is China’s responsibility to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC, without citing further dialogue.

• It warned that a continuation of the current situation “would only vitiate the atmosphere” for the relationship, indicating that the current status quo is unacceptable.

Violation:

• The recent clashes, the use of unauthorised violence on June 15, and the sheer numbers of troops and weaponry “amassed” have raised the eyebrows in Delhi.

• The government is pointing out that China has violated every agreement on border peace that the two sides have committed to since the 1993 Agreement.

• In short, the message is this — not only is the situation at the LAC of concern, but China’s actions have also probably undone decades of careful negotiations on the boundary.

• Questions would raise on the government’s silence when such a large troop mobilisation by China threatened Indian frontiers weeks ago, and whether it missed signals out of Beijing that this build-up was intended.

• Other questions remain about Prime Minister Modi’s insistence and the MEA’s consistent stand that Chinese troops have not come across the LAC, and that there have only been “attempted transgressions” by the PLA.

• Satellite pictures and media accounts point to the contrary. The government must now ensure some clarity.

• The nation must be apprised on the challenges and the steps planned beyond ongoing military and diplomatic exchanges, to ensure that the status quo ante, prior to May, is restored by China.

Conclusion:

• Each step, whether it involves military action, international support, or sanctions by banning Chinese products or the participation of Chinese telecom and other companies, will come with serious consequences.

• The government must ensure wide consultations, simultaneously preparing the people for what may follow.

• India must weigh its options against China and engage in wider domestic consultations.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the World Bank classification on Economy, consider the following statements:

1. Lower middle-income economies are those with a GNI per capita between $1,026 and $3,995.

2. High-income economies are those with a GNI per capita of $12,376 or more.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) What are the disputed areas between India and China relating to boundary demarcations? What are the implications of these disputes and ways to address these issues?

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