Chapter 8 India-China’s Border Anxiety and Precautions
Since the outbreak of conflicts in Doklam in the middle section of the India- China border in 2017 and the Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso in 2020, although India and China have gone through many rounds of negotiations and reached a withdrawal from Pangong Tso only after the ninth negotiation in February 2021, the two sides have not completely withdrawn their troops from the disputed area. On the contrary, the two sides have intensified their troop build-up and training on long-range force projection along the western border. The recent visit of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to Tibet during the floods in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, and his talks with officers of the Tibetan army not only commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Communist army’s entry into Tibet but also concern about the Communist army’s defense and deployment during the border conflict between India and China in the eastern sector. Furthermore, In June 25, 2021, when the Lhasa-Nyingchi railway, (also known as Lalin Line) was finished, Xi specifically choose to take this railroad to Nyingchi, this highlights the strategic value both on defense and economic of this line. The Lalin Line will link the Sichuan-Tibet and Qinghai-Tibet railroads, and a railroad from Linzhi to Chengdu will be built in the future, making the Tibetan Railway a link between Gansu, Qinghai, Yunnan, and Sichuan, which will play an essential role in long-range logistics and troop transport during border conflicts between India and China.
India and China have no plans to raise the border conflict on both sides. However, with China’s external relations, internal stability, and economic downturn, an agreement to stabilize the Ladakh border conflict, which is essential for the next Chinese 20th Congress’s Beidaihe Conference, would help Xi Jinping stabilize his internal political situation. The problem is that as long as the border dispute between India and China remains unresolved, the military forces of both sides will habitually express their stance on territorial sovereignty and cross the border due to internal political changes and nationalist sentiments, which may still cause conflicts again.