Indian, Chinese defence ministers meet, no breakthrough on border face-off - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 5 September 2020

Indian, Chinese defence ministers meet, no breakthrough on border face-off

Rajnath Singh meets Wei Fenghe in Moscow

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 5th Sept 20


Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart, Defence Minister and State Councillor General Wei Fenghe, on Friday and discussed the on-going border confrontation in Ladakh, but without any breakthrough in resolving the four-month-long confrontation.


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says the meeting was requested by the Chinese delegation on the side-lines of a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation defence ministers in Moscow.


In what the MoD characterizes as “frank and in-depth discussions”, both sides stuck to repeating their stated claims and positions on the border face-off.


“The Defence Minister categorically conveyed India’s position on the developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) including in the Galwan valley… He emphasised that the actions of the Chinese troops, including amassing of large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements and not in keeping with the understandings reached between the Special Representatives of two sides,” stated the MoD on Saturday.


Rajnath Singh “stated clearly that while the Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management, but at the same time there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the MoD.


According to a statement on the Chinese Defence Ministry website Wei told Rajnath: “India should strengthen management and control of its frontline troops and not make provocations or deliberately hype and spread negative information.”


The statement said: “Wei also reaffirmed to [Rajnath] Singh China's commitment and ability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity in the meeting.”


According to a Xinhua report, Wei told Rajnath: “The cause and fact of the current tension on the border between China and India are very clear, and the responsibility lies entirely with India.”


According to India’s MoD Wei said: “Both sides should scrupulously implement the consensus reached between Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi and President Xi Jinping and continue to solve the issues through dialogue and consultation, strictly follow the various bilateral agreements, strengthen the regulation of frontline troops and not undertake any provocative actions that might escalate the situation.”


Rajnath agreed that “Both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas was essential for the further development of our bilateral relations and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes,” said the MoD.


Rajnath said the two sides should work together “for complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas, including Pangong Lake, as well as de-escalation in border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols on maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas.”


The Indian defence minister was referring to a web of Sino-Indian agreements designed to keep peace on the border. These include the 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the LAC; the 1996 Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field; the 2005 Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field; the 2012 Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India–China Border Affairs, and the 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement.


According to Xinhua, Wei conveyed to Rajnath that he “hoped that the Indian side will strictly abide by the series of agreements reached between the two sides, effectively strengthen the control of the front-line forces, refrain from provoking the current line of actual control, refrain from any actions that may cause the situation to heat up, and refrain from deliberately hyping and disseminating negative information.”


According to the MoD, Rajnath responded to Wei that both sides should “strictly respect and observe the LAC and should not make attempts to unilaterally change status quo. He further said that the current situation should be handled responsibly and that neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas.” 


More than 35,000 soldiers from the Indian and Chinese militaries are ranged against each other in Eastern Ladakh, across the Depsang, Galwan, Hot Spring and Pangong Lake sectors. India has acknowledged the deaths of 20 soldiers, while China is also believed to have suffered casualties, but has not acknowledged any deaths.


Dialogue has taken place at the levels of Special Representatives, foreign ministers, diplomats and senior military commanders, but without a breakthrough so far.


  1. Essentially it means, they will not budge. Now do we do as they have done, capture areas unoccupied or use force to move them. Remember their logistics are very strong where ever they have come. It would be a blunder to move in foolishly in areas we can not sustain like 1962. We should be Wise but Unpredictable.They are really asking for action, which they are so sure we will never give. At the right time some light LMG and Mortar resistance would have prevented this situation.

  2. From what China has done in Ladhak it is clear, there can be *no* bilateral relation between India and China until Tibet gets its freedom. The only relation from now on will be adversarial, with China replacing Pakistan as enemy #1. As such business with enemy nation cannot be welcomed or tolerated. India needs to make a complete ban on Chinese products in Indian markets and also those products from companies owned and operated by Chinese in other nations. China is smart in using third countries (such as Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc) as base for manufacturing and pushing products in India. China has just demonstrated its willingness to use any opportunity to hit at India. I wonder what restricts India from exploiting Chinese weaknesses and opportunities to destroy China or Pakistan. If *any* opportunity presents to India to weaken China and Pakistan, we need to be able to capitalize on it at a moments notice. That is the level of readiness India needs to be at to defeat China. To all Indians stop using any and all Chinese products in your daily lives and at home. Don't buy any Chinese electronics, smart phones software, apps, toys even if they are offered FREE! SAY NO TO MADE IN CHINA!

  3. All this is of no consequence. In the 4-5 agreements in the last 30 years, India has agreed to be a strategic partner of China, and not a competitor. However, in last about 4 years, it has clearly shifted towards an covertly anti-China alliance. This shouts out - We won't honour the previous arrangement. And if so, it will have to face China.
    If it indeed have to face China ( which it has - absolutely no two ways about it), let it do so with honour and courage. But let it not want war and yet back off from it.
    A hesitant warrior always loses more than he should have.

  4. India was as foolish about China as the US has been - helping their rise even though they were arming Pakistan, transferring weapons technology to it, enabling its nuclear and missile exchanges with North Korea, and protecting their terrorists from UN sanctions.

    All this was going on since the 1960s. So the fools were India. Now we have to see how best to recover lost territory.

  5. @Annonymus above - —- I wonder what restricts India from exploiting Chinese weaknesses and opportunities to destroy China or Pakistan.—-
    What restricts India? Money, sir.
    All we can provide to dying mouths is 5 kg rice? Should we not give even that?
    We must fight because only cowards lump insults. But to hope to destroy China, or even Pakistan!

  6. "From what China has done in Ladhak it is clear, there can be *no* bilateral relation between India and China until Tibet gets its freedom."

    China's response is freedom for Nagaland and Manipur.

    1. You worry about Baluchistan and Sindhudesh

  7. China desperately needs some war experience before the big one… and it looks like India wants to help. Even if China loses, it is still a win for China.

  8. The talks in Moscow between the Defence Ministers of India and China were fated to end the way they have done. That the talks will yield no result was already clear from the delicate position that prevails on the LAC cf Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla's statement:' we have never had this sort of a situation since 1962.'As China has a clear advantage over India, it has little interest in talks. The only interest it has in talks is to ensure that Indian troops withdraw from some of the heights they have reportedly occupied so that China can fortify its position even further. As for India, it will not launch a military strike in a situation when going by a recent Pentagon report Chinese army is at least as advanced as the US in several military modernisation areas such as ship building, land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles and integrates air defence systems.

  9. In response to India initiating a covert insurgency in Tibet will China also initiate covert action in support of insurgencies in Northeast India?

    For all the comments about China having the brittle political system, India is a rickety society with a lot of ongoing and dormant conflicts. If China supports Naga rebels with guns, it will also mean Naxals in Chhattisgarh get guns because of the links between the two group. If China ships 10,000 guns to Nagaland as a befitting reply to the Tibetan insurgency unit's raid then 5,000 will be sold onwards to Naxals.

    I would be more impressed with your calculations if you factor Chinese covert responses. Then I'd like to see how you come to the conclusion that India can bear the costs of even covert war with China.

    1. Gentleman, Fear is The key... Are they willing to loose that much VIS a visit India, I think. Not. LOOSING Tinet for CHINA may be more than. Losing Taiwan, a prestige point.. If they counter with insurgency in NE or support NAXALITES, they have a bigger price to pay in HK, TAWAN, TIBET, XINGNG. A Dragon would loose more meat than a Tiger
      And the fear of loosing more in future is what is making it do what it's doing now.

  10. Anon, Alok, Jimmy are all 100%. Actually, BTW, this nonsense has been going on since 1950, as well as lying to the public. EVERY govt from Nehru onward has done this because we dont want to take on China. Chinese see our anxiety to negotiate as a sign of weakness and push us more.

    Exactly: put Tibet back on the table, tell the people of India that to buildup/fight China will take many years and hardships. If the people say forget about it, give China East and North Ladakh and relax.

    Ofcourse, that will also not work because after signing peace agreements with China, PRC will continue to push. Gilgit and Baltistan are next (with Pakistan's agreement. Pakistan will keep nominal sovereignty; PRC also wants India out of Arunachal, Bhutan, SIkkim, and Nepal, then down to the Jamuna/Bhramaputra. They want the entire Himalayan range plus 100-200 km buffer in the plains.

    Now when I would tell our esteemed official this, they'd say "You're mad". Its not just china, its our history since Pirthviraj Chauhan was defeated when other Rajputs turned traitors, same thing happened with the British, etc etc. This is a 1000-years malady.

    1. History need not repeat itself that is evolution, but natiins evolve only during hardships and suffering

    2. India WILL NOT GET DEFEATED AGAIN FOR sure, Also if China gets defeated lot of the business can come to India.. Much lesser spending in future on Wars, now Peace with PAK can become realistic idea. Countries like ISREAL NOE, BRITAIN THEN, could not have won had they shied from confronting a conflict situation. Vietnam,,USA conflict, Etc a lessons of people's will for a cause

  11. October 20th is not far off, only a little over 40 days (almost 58 years ago, when 1962 China India war started). In order to have lasting peace for the next 50 years, another war is needed, regardless who win or lose.

    Chances are not good for India. Even if in the case of miracle that India won the war, it still loses due to its distraction from its horrendous COVID predicament, downright suicidal economic trend, and many other badly needed unresolved issues – all its valuable resources would be wasted on a senseless war.

    Imagine what happens if India loses the war; it still needs to come back and deal with those urgent issues. If that is the case, there is a very good chance, India may not even survive and may even be split up into many little countries.

    This is a very crucial moment for India. Now the question is: Can India afford a second defeat?

  12. Ravi,

    What happens when Nagaland and Manipur are put on the table? China would not have to foment a rebellion. There are already thousands of fighters waiting to receive guns.

  13. "Imagine what happens if India loses the war; it still needs to come back and deal with those urgent issues. If that is the case, there is a very good chance, India may not even survive and may even be split up into many little countries."

    The risk of Indian defeat in a war is 90% due to China's overwhelming economic and military superiority. And if that is the outcome of defeat then I think it's clear what India should do: come to a compromise that is favorable to China.

  14. "If they counter with insurgency in NE or support NAXALITES, they have a bigger price to pay in HK, TAWAN, TIBET, XINGNG."

    Who is going to make China fear losing these places? Not India. A low level Chinese attache could drop in on a Khalistan movement reception in Vancouver and the whole national media will go crazy for a few days. Because of China's superior power, they control fear in Indian minds. The fear is rationale. India will lose 10x more in any conflict with China.


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