Despite meeting for more than two hours, foreign minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi don’t seem to have made much progress in finding a resolution to the border standoff in eastern Ladakh. A five-point joint press statement issued at the end of the meeting was quite uninspiring in that it called for further talks at the military and diplomatic levels, promised to abide by all existing agreements and protocols on the border issue, and committed to create conditions for disengagement. In other words, China has neither agreed to pull back immediately nor committed to restore the status quo ante at the border.
Which means that Indian troops most likely have to stay deployed in the forward areas throughout the harsh winter. With no easy solutions in sight to China’s aggressive territorial claims, India needs to be prepared for the long haul. It has to recognise that it is now in the midst of a complex strategic tussle with China where Beijing is seeking to wear New Delhi down through its economic and diplomatic heft. The only way to counter this is through tie-ups with likeminded countries.
Read more – Jaishankar-Wang talks: Provocative behaviour of PLA at LAC shows disregard for bilateral agreements, India tells China
In this regard, it is welcome that India has now inked a reciprocal military logistics pact with Japan which will allow them to support each other’s warships and aircraft. India and Japan geographically bracket the key segment of the Indo-Pacific. Therefore, their mutual cooperation is essential for the success of the Quad and other initiatives to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight, as well as push back against China’s hegemonic designs in the region. China presents a serious strategic-security challenge for the whole of East Asia. All regional stakeholders must come together to form an effective counterweight to an expansionist Beijing.