The next few days are going to be stormy for India and China say a former diplomat and retired lieutenant general

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The next few days are going to be stormy for India and China say a former diplomat and retired lieutenant general
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the former's visit to WuhanWikimedia
  • Former diplomat Rajiv Bhatia believes that neither side wants a “real escalation in terms of military conflict.”
  • Using its diplomatic toolkit, India could delay the Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting scheduled for June 23 and convene a special QUAD meeting instead to send a strong signal.
  • The current conflict could strengthen the ties between the QUAD members — India, US, Japan and Australia — since all of them have been the target of Chinese aggression.
Public pressure is mounting on both sides as India and China remain locked in conflict along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley.

Even after a telephonic conversation between India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, a lot remains up in the air. “The next few days are going to be stormy,” former diplomat and distinguished Gateway House fellow, Rajiv Bhatia told Business Insider India.

Agreeing with him, Retired Lieutenant General DS Hooda — who was the Northern Army Commander during the surgical strike against Pakistan in September 2016 — told HW News “We’re in for some very tough and hard negotiations.”

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Amid the rising tensions, the Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting is scheduled for June 23. While India doesn’t wish for armed conflict, it could send a strong signal by delaying the conference. “Delhi should actually postpone the RIC meeting and call a convene special QUAD meeting, which will send a very clear signal to our friends in Beijing,” suggests Bhatia.

According to him, India’s international connections are strong and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invested a great deal in partnership around the world — and now would be the time to bank on that goodwill.

The difference in perception of what happened on June 15
The Indian side has unequivocally said that the Chinese attack was “premeditated and planned” resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers. China, on the other hand, believes that India needs to “control its frontline troops.”

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“The Indian unit went to check whether the particular part had actually been vacated by the Chinese,” said Bhatia. He explains that when the military actually reached the location instead of finding empty barracks — the troops were ambushed instead.

Nobody wants another India-China war
The statement issued by India’s Foreign Ministry indicated that the “violent face-off” on June 15 will “have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship.” On the other hand, China’s Foreign Ministry has asked India to “immediately cease all provocative actions.”

But, one thing that both sides have agreed on is that things need to de-escalate. “We would just have to stick to a rational view and presume that neither side wants a real escalation in terms of military conflict across the border,” said Bhatia.

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However, since the agreement reached on June 6 didn’t hold and the foreign ministers were unable to reach a total reconciliation — the level of diplomatic parlays now needs to be escalated to special representatives, which would involve Wang from China’s side and national security advisor AK Doval on India’s behalf.

“I don’t think we’ll get a solution out of military-to-military dialogue,” said Hooda even though another attempt is set to take place today on June 18 at 10:30 am at a Major General-level to resolve the issues related to the violent face-off in Galwan area on June 15 according to Indian Army sources that spoke to ANI.

“Solutions will have to be found in the diplomatic and political sphere,” he explains that for militaries, on the ground, it’s unlikely that either side will step back that when it’s about territory.

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“China will inform some of their key friends like Russia and we’ll be doing the same with our QUAD partners and ASEAN. In our own neighbourhood, of course, we probably aren’t going to brief Nepal and Pakistan,” explained Bhatia. He adds that the current crisis could strengthen the solidarity between the QUAD countries — India, US, Japan and Australia — because all of them “are victims of Chinese aggression,”

According to him, it will be a couple of days of back-and-forth between India and China before the special representatives reach a consensus.

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