There are glaring dissimilarities in India’s foreign policy stances towards China post the military disengagement in Doklam 2017 and the ongoing one in Ladakh. The former was followed by a reset that resembled closeness and acquiescence through informal summits in Wuhan and Mamallapuram while the latter seems to have prompted a distancing from China that was exemplified in the elevation of the Quad meeting to the level of political leadership on 12 March 2021 wherein Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that “members of the Quad will be closer than ever before”. Remarkably, for the first time, a joint statement was issued which was followed up by a joint article by the Quad leaders was also published in The Washington Post and China’s reaction is awaited. Meanwhile, it was not surprising that China was stalling the disengagement process in Ladakh.
While one can endlessly speculate on China’s motives in Doklam and Ladakh, what matters ultimately is the strategic effect of Chinese military aggression on India. Loss of trust cannot be cranked up impetuously. In any case, the Wuhan and Mamallapuram facade has perished and the reality of China’s perennial perfidy should forewarn and prepare us to exercise greater circumspection and watchfulness.