The disengagement process in Ladakh is hopefully the concluding scene of another military episode in India-China relations. Political and strategic relationships, especially those involving neighbours with whom we have disputes, are in reality an unending mind game, with the parties concerned competing for advantages aimed to protect, preserve and promote their vital interests. In this episode, China threatened India’s territorial integrity, India reacted firmly, and if the disengagement goes according to plan, India would seem to have quite successfully defended its interests for the time being.
A deepened military mind game can be expected to endure in the form of military preparations. The scene now shifts to where it finally matters the most – in the minds of the opposing political leaderships, which will be reflected in the future politico-diplomatic manoeuvres.
China’s military aggressiveness in the Himalayas must be viewed as part of the big picture of the larger global geopolitical contestation. A rising China that is economically buoyant, politically authoritarian, assertive and aggressive, is being increasingly opposed by the US, which is slipping from its status as the lone Superpower.