Arriving at a new normal in India-China relations

This article was first published in The Hindustan Times.

The ongoing stand-off between the Indian and Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh is a fork in the road, fundamentally reshaping the direction of the bilateral relationship. Over the last few years, the architects of the gradual thaw and developing partnership between the two sides, which began in 1988, had been warning about the withering of old mechanisms that had kept the peace on the disputed boundary.

Despite the pageantry of informal summitry, the strategic guidance provided by the leaders to their respective militaries has clearly not succeeded in stemming incidents. In November 2019, the minister of state for defence, Shripad Naik, told Parliament that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had transgressed into Indian territory 1,025 times between 2016 and 2018. Roughly a third of these incidents took place in 2018. In April that year, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping held the first of their two informal summits. Recent reports suggest that the number of transgressions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) increased significantly in 2019.