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Small Relief


The quiet negotiations between Indian and Chinese representatives seem to have paid off at least to the extent that the face-off in the Galwan Valley, Ladakh, has been eased. The forces of both countries have withdrawn by as much as two kilometres, each, from the LAC in that area. It may be recalled that, more or less, a similar withdrawal had been agreed to earlier and the bloody skirmish took place when Indian troops went to monitor it. This, by no means, implies that relations are back to normal and tens of thousands of troops continue to face-off in the region. But, it can be said that the prospects of even a limited war seem to have diminished a little bit, which is the least expected from two supposedly responsible countries.

There will be a lot of comment from the professional and amateur experts on which country has gained the advantage. It will be argued that China has crept closer to its objective of preventing India from building infrastructure in areas that could dominate sensitive spots on the other side of the LAC. Also, that a two-kilometre retreat amounts to nothing in comparison to how much China is required to withdraw. How this will be dumbed down for the perceived Indian psyche will become known when the MP from Waynad expresses his opinion. It must be admitted, however, that things are moving in the required direction.

These developments seem to indicate that the Galwan clash was not planned by the Chinese and could have been a serious miscalculation on their part. The repercussions have not just been confined to India, but have had resonance around the world. China is in almost everybody’s bad books at the present and not just because of the COVID-19 crisis. Its self-serving use of investments in projects in ‘allied’ countries to purchase compliance with its political objectives has alienated even those they claim to have benefited. Almost all countries engaged with China in one way or another have initiated steps to reduce their dependence, even if in small ways. The Chinese leadership will have read these signs and the long term impact of the continuing bad publicity. India may not be much loved by some, but its open system and the way it has handled the crisis will have impressed many. The wise move for them, at the present, is to postpone the confrontation for another, more suitable, day. Having been given a wake-up call, India, too, should prepare for when that day comes.