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Business News/ Companies / People/  Beijing is not going to withdraw its soldiers: Jayadeva Ranade

Beijing is not going to withdraw its soldiers: Jayadeva Ranade

'I don’t think the Chinese would have invested so much money and effort just to send a signal'

Jayadeva Ranade, president, Centre for China Analysis and Strategy.Premium
Jayadeva Ranade, president, Centre for China Analysis and Strategy.

It is highly unlikely that China will withdraw from any of the territory and will start demanding concessions from us, said Jayadeva Ranade, a former member of the National Security Advisory Board who has been tracking China for three decades. Ranade, who currently helms the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, says that India must prepare for a protracted period of tensions. Edited excerpts:

What is your assessment of the ground situation post the escalation on the night of 15 June which has resulted in the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers?

It is now clear that there are multiple points along a 1,100-km belt on the LAC where they (China) have built up their forces. This indicates pre-meditation and planning. I don’t think the Chinese would have invested so much money and effort just to send a signal. So, we have not seen the end of it. Even if there is some agreement, it is not going to last. I don’t think they are going to go back. And I don’t think this is just about some operational advantage in the Galwan valley (the latest flashpoint in northern Ladakh).

This is a year of military reforms in China. Army commanders are expected to submit their agenda to the party high command by end-2020. Could that have something to do with these recent border tensions?

I don’t think this is a case of one commander being adventurous. Any crossing of the border has to be cleared by the military commission. Amassing this kind of force is not within the mandate of the western theatre military commander. It would have gone all the up to (president) Xi Jinping. He either approved this or instigated it.

What is the logic behind the timing then? Why now?

This has been coming for a while. The strain in China-India relations has been there for a while. They (China) have a lot of strategic and financial investments in the wider Ladakh region due to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor and their own projects. If India builds roads and strengthens its position at Daulat Beg Oldi (a military base on the LAC), we can cut them off from the Karakoram road (which lies to the north and offers a corridor into Gilgit-Baltistan). They clearly wanted to take a chunk of our territory so that they are secure in the future. They must have calculated that we are busy with covid and they are anyway strong.

The revocation of Article 370 in J&K was a trigger point. When we did that, we issued new maps, which of course showed Aksai Chin (China-occupied eastern ear of J&K) as part of our territory, but we have always done that. Though External affairs minister S Jaishankar went to Beijing and explained nothing has changed on the international border, they think there is something up our sleeve. Their apprehension is that we did a surgical airstrike (last year) and they don’t know what we’ll do next. There were Chinese project sites just 30km from Balakot. The Chinese have clearly decided ‘let us secure our own interests’. They’ve decided they will pre-empt any move by us. Why would they put in so much effort for one thrust in Galwan?

The number of defence exercises in the Tibetan plateau – both ground and air –has gone up lately (by 50-60%), with regular references to India in the official media… what I would call the military media. They seem to have pulled things together and come now. Whether they are actually prepared for a conflict is another question.

Lives have been lost on both sides, although we still do not know much about the casualties on the Chinese side. What is a viable way forward?

The only viable way forward is China pulls back to where things were in April, but I don’t see them doing it in a hurry. There will be protracted talks. If troop levels remain the same, there could be another flare-up. I think it is a volatile and fluid situation. We have to be prepared for an escalation.

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Published: 18 Jun 2020, 11:46 PM IST
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