China and India: The Conflict the World Really Wants to Avoid
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This week, China and India agreed to "peacefully resolve" their border tensions in the Himalayas through diplomatic and military means. This happened after the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) carried out a large-scale exercise to check readiness on the border with India. During the maneuver operation, thousands of PLA paratroopers conducted exercises with armored vehicles in the northwest region of central China's Hubei province.
The process was completed in just a few hours, but it was the latest saber rattle in the region and was intended to demonstrate China's ability to quickly strengthen its border defense. The footage of the troops boarding civil aircraft and trains prior to the exercises was broadcast on Saturday on the state television channel CCTV. On the same day, top generals from China and India held talks in Moldo on the Chinese side of the unmarked border, called the Actual Control Line (LAC).
According to a statement by the Indian State Department, both sides have maintained communication and the meeting has taken place in a warm and positive atmosphere.
"Both sides agreed to resolve the situation in the border areas peacefully in accordance with various bilateral agreements and to take into account the agreement between the heads of state and government that peace and tranquility in the border regions between India and China for the general development of bilateral Relationships are essential. " the statement noted.
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This year marks the seventieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and although both sides have committed to continue their military and diplomatic engagement, things have not always been so warm. Tensions along one of the longest land borders in the world have increased, and both New Delhi and Beijing have accused the other of having exceeded the LAC.
Indian strategic analyst Shishir Gupta, in an article for the Hindustan Times, suggested that the PLA maneuvers were part of a "pys-ops" campaign that could lead to public disillusionment. He added: “It is fairly obvious that resolving the current standoff in Eastern Ladakh will require a series of engagements with small incremental steps every time, if at all. Given the strong commitment on both sides, each side would seek concessions from the other before the status quo ante was restored. "
China is increasingly broadcasting such demonstrations of power.
Groups of tanks and other armored vehicles belonging to the 76th group army under the PLA Western Theater Command had previously performed a remote maneuver on May 14.
Thousands of soldiers from China and India have been stuck for almost a month. Current issues include the strategic road through the Galwan Valley in Ladkh that India built - a move that China rejects.
While the Western media often portray the Kashmiri dispute as just one between India and Pakistan, China also controls around 17 percent of the territory. The LAC has existed since 1962, when the two most populous countries in the world went to war in two remote, mountainous border regions. In less than a month, China inflicted a devastating defeat on India, pushing back the Indian armed forces on all fronts.
The legacy of 1962 still resonates in both countries.
India has fallen far behind China's military, but today both countries share the overwhelming ambition to be a "major power" in Asia - if not the most powerful. China and India each have the largest and second largest military on the continent and the highest and second highest defense budgets. Both also have a huge domestic defense industry.
Cooler heads have prevailed at the moment, but as India and Pakistan continue to face each other in the region, India and China will face each other as well. While such a future conflict could be catastrophic for New Delhi, it could also be devastating for Beijing - one that the world would do best to avoid.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He is the author of several books on military headwear, including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.
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