Ladakh Skirmishes: A New flash point of Sino-India Cold War?

By Faryal Hashmi

Since 1962, China and India kept engaged with each other on border issues. Although, the two states did several treaties with each other in the respect of Line of Actual Control (LAC) but as usual on May 5, 2020, at the northernmost region of India and near the Pangong Lake in Ladakh , once again both face-off each other. This time it was bloodiest and dangerous than ever after 1962. Both sides took up the hardline stand on their positions which is ultimately leading the region into danger.

India blamed China for entering into the Galwan Valley and capturing the important post inside. On the flip side Chinese accused India for the construction of road in Galwan Valley. But the bloodiest days of 15 and 16 June, 2020 the skirmishes resulted in the death of 20 India Army soldiers and 43 Chinese Soldiers including officers. News agencies stated Indian Army captivated for some time and then they released. These skirmishes have long history and by even having treaties over it, it does not end the escalation. This problem has not any solution of peace so far alike Kashmir issue. But this face-off has many lesson and future predictions with it.

According to Thucydides, “when one great power threatens to displace another, war is almost always the result.” This seems pretty much accurate in the case of current Sino-India LAC skirmishes. These fights have highlighted many laps for India. For instance, India has now realized that it needs long term strategic planning regarding China especially in the case of LAC. India needs to upgrade the military against china in terms of expense, exercise, and ability. It is not easy for them to give china tough time having this capacity. This event had made divide the country in to two groups. One group want a befitting reply to Chinese Army and the other one want to have smooth relationship with china as it is useless to fight with the giant with less capacity.

Moreover, this continuous fight over LAC and water issues generated a cold war between them. Does this Cold war would turned into direct war is the question. The answer is pretty much in the favor of no. it has many reasons. For Instance, china an emerging power, getting parallel to USA cannot afford a full fledge war with emerging economy of South Asia, The India. Moreover, Beijing is engaged with US in trade war. On the other side, combating with the pandemic Coronavirus, it is impossible for India to engage China into a direct war. Additionally, when it knows about the lack of capacity in their defense and technology as compare to China.

There might be another reality that China just wants to show off its military capability. It may want to give silent message to all those entities that are having any idea of conflict with china. Or it might be a secret signal to India to kept distance from US if it want peaceful broader. Likewise, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political ambitions can be the reason behind this escalation. Modi’s Governtment is largely facing inside criticism in handling the prevailing situation of Covid-19. For diverting the attention from its domestic performance he is playing this card. India internally was facing many issues e.g. citizenship law act, abolishing of special status of J&K. So, all these stunts might have the base for the escalation. What the reason it may be but both the states should keep this in mind that that it is states initiate wars by choice but no one can end the war by choice.

The writer is an M.Phil. Student of International Relations at National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Islamabad

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