Ladakh

Mountain Showdown

Indian media, military and leadership are quite confused.
The country’s infrastructure development in the LAC region is
unwarranted and could sow more seeds of discord.

By Amjad Ali Siyal | August 2020

The Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between India and China, has remained relatively peaceful post-1962. Nonetheless, the recent skirmishes are unprecedented as fistfights led to fatalities. Since there is a paucity of credible information, no one actually knows what the ground realities are. Both the countries continue to share their versions of stories for domestic and international consumption. However, Indian media blames China that the latter has resorted to aggression in order to cover up its failure to tackle Covid-19 and, as a result, has employed diversionary tactics to deflect international pressure. Contrary to Indian media hyperbole, there is much more than what has accumulated over the years.

There is backdrop of a series of provocations to China such as the Doklam stand-off, massive infrastructure build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India joining anti-China Indo-Pacific Strategy, unilateral alteration of the disputed region of Ladakh and thereby claiming Aksai Chin as Indian parts, coupled with challenging Chinese interests in CPEC, the BRI’s flagship project, etc. China thus found an opportune moment to respond to Indian provocations.

The frenetic Indian media claims that China wants to divert attention for its alleged mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be unsubstantiated. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that the pandemic outbreak is a natural occurrence and not man-made. Moreover, China itself suffered disproportionately due to the coronavirus and its economic growth rate slowed down. China, after successfully containing the virus at home, helped other affected countries with medical supplies. Thus, the Indian media’s propaganda clearly seems to be overly exaggerated.

Sporadic fistfights were usual along the LAC between the patrolling soldiers of China and India. Nevertheless, these fights would turn into fatalities was something never witnessed before. On June 15, violent clashed led to reportedly 20 Indian casualties, while China did not release the number of its casualties, if any. Indian media did boast 43 Chinese casualties which explicitly seems inaccurate keeping in view the fact that China also took 10 Indian soldiers in its custody but later released them after negotiations.

India is busy with its own domestic issues of tackling the coronavirus and economic slowdown. Perhaps China found this an opportune moment to flex its muscle to send a tough message to New Delhi that its forces should not cross the red line.

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