Challenges for India in managing China – UPSC GS2

Recent Border Issues:
  • Last year, ingression by the Chinese army led to a standoff between India and China at the LAC (Line of Actual control).
  • The seven hotspots were Depsang plains, Galwan, Gogra, Hot Springs, North bank of Pangong Tso, Kailash range and Demchok.
  • At Galwan valley, a violent clash broke out that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers.
  • Sooner, the situation at Galwan was resolved by the two sides through disengagement from the face-off sites.
  • After that, India and China agreed to disengage from the Kailash range and north bank of Pangong Tso.
  • Further, it was stated by the Indian defense minister that, both sides will address and resolve all other remaining issues sooner than later. However, China refused to even discuss the remaining issues.
Concerns over growing tensions between India and China
  • Unstable and Unsustainable Peace at border:
    • There are massive deployments on each side after the disengagement.
    • Kailash range has seen neither de-escalation nor de-induction so far.
    • Also, India’s aim of restoring the status quo ante as of April 2020 remains unfulfilled.
    • By resorting to deal with issues on individual basis, India had lost the opportunity to simultaneously resolve all the flashpoints in Ladakh.
  • COVID dented India’s image:
    • India was seen as a better alternative to Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy, particularly in South Asia.
    • Even the QUAD pledge to deliver a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine throughout the Indo-Pacific by the end of 2022 was focused on India’s capabilities to produce Vaccines.
    • India also made commitments to poor countries to supply vaccines through GAVI’s COVAX scheme.
    • However, India backtracked on its existing contractual commitments to supply vaccines to its friendly neighbours due to intense public criticism over the shortage of vaccines for its own population.
    • This has created doubts on India’s reliability as a partner and its ability to act as a counter to China.
    • A weaker India will make India more dependent on the United States to deal with China. This would further strain India-China ties.
  • Possibility of 2-front war:
    • India sought peace with Pakistan to avoid a two-front collusive threat after the Ladakh crisis.
    • However, American military withdrawal from Afghanistan and a win for the Taliban, and the backing of assertive china might make ground for Pakistan to attack India.
  • Disagreement over Chinese COVID supplies:
    • Fourth, the recent disagreement over Chinese supplies to India also reflects the poor state of bilateral ties.
    • Beijing’s efforts have been largely confined to private companies and donations from the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. It is unlike other countries which have pledged government help to India.
    • While the Chinese media ambiguously frames it as Chinese aid, India maintains that these are largely commercial contracts between private companies.
    • The opportunity provided by the Pandemic for the two Asian giants to work together has been lost as both governments have focused on point scoring.