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China intends to keep boundary issue alive, says Indian Army Chief Gen Pande; efforts to alter status quo will be thwarted

In his book "India-China Boundary Issues", late Indian diplomat R S Kalha observed that, "China will continue its policy of keeping India strategically confined to South Asia with the active assistance of Pakistan, and strategically imbalanced by continuing incursions across the LAC.In such an event, there is little change that there will be any meaningful forward movement in the settlement of the boundary dispute between India and China."

May 10, 2022
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Indian Army Chief, Gen Manoj Pande

China does not have the intent to find an early resolution to the overall boundary question, new Indian Army Chief, Gen Manoj Pande, has said, a view that has been long held by many experts on China.

In his first formal media interaction Monday after taking over stewardship of 1.4 million strong army, the world's largest volunteer force, Gen Pande said that when it comes to China, “The basic issue remains the resolution of the borders,” the unsettled 3488-km long boundary between the two countries that has caused one war and another near one two years ago.

“What we see is that China’s intent has been to keep the boundary issue alive,” Pande said, who took over as the new Army Chief on May 1. “What we need is a whole of nation approach” to address the issue in its entirety. “In the military domain, this is to prevent and counter any attempt to alter the status quo at the LAC (Line of Actual Control),” he said.

In his book "India-China Boundary Issues" (Pentagon Press), late Indian diplomat R S Kalha observed that, "China will continue its policy of keeping India strategically confined to South Asia with the active assistance of Pakistan, and strategically imbalanced by continuing incursions across the LAC. In such an event, there is little change that there will be any meaningful forward movement in the settlement of the boundary dispute between India and China." 

"It is not 'fair and reasonable' solutions are not available, but to China it (the boundary issue) is too valuable an instrument of coercive diplomatic to give it up, "Kalha stated. 

Speaking about the military standoff in eastern Ladakh, Gen Pande expressed the hope that resolution for the balance of friction points will be found through dialogue. Gen Pande said that through the dialogue between the Corps Commanders from the two sides, “many friction areas have been resolved after talking to each other.” Regarding the balance areas, where disengagement has not yet happened—including Hot Springs, Depsang Plains and Demchok— Gen Pande said, “They can only be resolved through dialogue” and added, “it is good that we are talking to and engaging with each other.”

“Our troops continue to hold important positions along the LAC. He said the guidance for the troops is to “have a firm and resolute” posture to “prevent any efforts to alter the status quo.” The Indian Army’s “aim and intention, as far as the situation is concerned, is to restore the status quo ante prior to April 2020.” He said the “aim is also to re-establish trust and tranquillity on both sides.”

However, he added, “it cannot be a one-way affair. Efforts should be made from both the sides.”

Pande said that “over the last couple of years we have taken the decision to rebalance and reorient our forces to deal with the situation in eastern Ladakh.” Even as there is a “re-appraisal and re-assessment of our preparedness,” he said, adding, “we have a robust posture on the LAC” and “adequate forces to deal with all contingencies”.

He called the resolution of situation on the border with China one of the top challenges in front of him along with the second “imperative” - the “efforts for modernisation, transformation and restructuring of the Army.”

Asked about the lessons learned from the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Pande said, there were several “important lessons”. “The foremost is that relevance of conventional war still remains. We are seeing many platforms – artillery guns, air defence guns, rockets, missiles and tanks being employed in this war in one way or the other. It also tells us that wars need not be necessarily be short and swift. It could prolong in a manner the current conflict is.”

The second important lesson, he said, would be “for us to try and be self-reliant in terms of weapons, armaments, equipment and spares from outside. We are dependent on certain weapon systems especially in the area of air defence, rockets, missiles and certain tanks from Russia and Ukraine.” He reiterated that “increasing self-reliance and decreasing our dependence on outside sources is an important lesson.” 

(SAM)

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