Spirited tactically sound responses by India’s troops have left China stuck in a quicksand of its own making that it can neither extricate itself easily from nor remain stuck in for too long, a leading Amsterdam based European think-tank has said while analysing the developments on the night of 29/30 August at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh.
India has taken a leaf out of the Chinese book and taken control of some strategic heights not only on the southern bank of Pangong Tso, but also its northern bank, thereby bolstering its position, according to the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), the European Union accredited independent, nonprofit think tank and policy research institution. India’s move has taken China by surprise and appears to have unsettled it, the institute said.
The EFSAS noted that public opinion in China has been woven around a strong and invincible image of President Xi, which would be tarnished greatly were China to pack up and leave the Himalayan heights at this stage.
Digging in for the long haul with winter fast approaching would present its own set of serious physical and logistical challenges at altitudes well over 4000 meters.As for India, the think-tank said it had been brought out in October 2018 in the institute’s study paper titled The Doklam Standoff: A Template for Countering Chinese Belligerence and Expansionism that India had learnt from the Doklam face-off in 2017 that it was firm resolve on the ground backed by potent and demonstrated military capabilities that would force China to back down and negotiate.
It said China had anticipated much less pushback against its attempts since April to alter the status of the LAC at multiple points through surreptitious incursions into India side.
The institute said that despite the repeated incidents near Pangong Tso over the last few days and the visible erosion of trust, the saving grace was that public statements emanating from the two countries still seem to be prioritising peace over a war that would hurt both countries severely in critical spheres. Actually achieving such peace, though, would require a considerable amount of deft negotiations and mutual give and take, and hence the present standoff promised to linger and be protracted.
The potential of violent flare-ups in the intervening sensitive period till an agreement was eventually reached existed, and both sides needed to be alert to prevent that from happening.
The think tank said China, not without justification was feeling that any major act of aggression by it against India at a juncture when its own stock internationally was very low and highly suspect, could be the spark that would set off much bigger and wider events way beyond its control that it stood to suffer greatly from.