After a long standoff, on 10 February 2021, the cool heads prevailed into Beijing and New Delhi which led to the disengage of troops at Pangong Tso. Presently, as Indian and Chinese tanks are withdrawing from borders, rumors have started popping up in the Indian media and need to be clarified. In this Guarding India article, we will cover few factors which should be known by an average Indian.
First and foremost, the agreement was sealed between the military commanders of India and China with diplomatic supervision. Therefore, it is unlikely that military commanders on either side would have given away their land as the same will amount to a loss of prestige for their armies. Thus rumors of losing land to China are unfounded. Both armies have agreed to create a no patrol zone between Finger 4 and Finger 8. It is just akin to ‘No Mans Land’ with fewer minefields and permanent posts. Both Indian, as well as Chinese troops, have moved back but the Chinese side has lost its newly created military boat facility on Pangong Tso as they have pulled back beyond Finger 8. This agreement is mutually beneficial as India still monitors Chinese troop activity from mountain peaks of Kailash Range.
Secondly, this withdrawal is being implemented in the Pangong Tso area and both armies are still manning the frontline on the other two flashpoints i.e. Galwan area and in the Chushul sector. This means that effectively it’s only a partial disengagement. This is essential as both sides are highly suspicious of each other as the Indian Army fears PLA might open another front while the Chinese Army is still haunted by the fact that the Indian Army surgical strike captured Kailash Range which overlooks the entire Pangong Tso area. Therefore, any withdrawal will be carefully observed by intelligence and strategic analysts on both sides.
Thirdly, both Indian and Chinese Armies have only vacated the frontline while they are still manning their position a few kilometers from LAC. This means, in case of any escalation both nations can quickly deploy troops to the frontline without any delay. Thus, the only advantage of the latest disengagement will be that both armies are no longer involved in the eyeball to eyeball conflict. However, the LAC remains heavily manned on both sides where even a small spark can ignite the flames of war.
Fourthly, akin to Doklam, the disengagement at Pangong Tso is a big loss of face to China as it proves Chinese belligerence. Besides this it also proves the Indian armed forces are capable of deterring China which is first in Asia and the same will improve India’s global standing in coming years. As India has walked out of the Chinese trap after beating the Chinese in their own game, it is likely that major global, as well as Asian powers, will approach New Delhi for enhanced military cooperation which may include an enlarged QUAD aimed at deterring Chinese hegemony.
Finally, Team Guarding India welcomes the disengagement at LAC but we would like to say that the issue is a sensitive international issue and any misinformation or defamation on India’s official position is likely to be exploited by China. Therefore, we hope that Indian politicians rise above the party lines and petty interests to ensure Indian interests are not harmed in a parliamentary fight.