A new law approved by China’s national legislature is likely to have long-term ramifications for India, even as the resolution of the boundary dispute between the two neighbours continues to be a bridge too far. The law, which will come into effect from January next year, states that ‘the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China are sacred and inviolable’. In a veiled threat to countries such as India, the law stipulates that the State shall guard against and combat any act that undermines territorial sovereignty. Though the law does mention that ‘the State shall handle land border-related affairs with neighbouring countries through negotiations to properly resolve disputes and long-standing border issues’, the aggressive posturing on the ground betrays the trust deficit that persists even after 13 rounds of military-level talks and a couple of meetings between the foreign ministers of the two countries. The emphasis on building more border towns makes it clear that China is in for the long haul and wants to keep India on its toes.
India has not only been keeping a close watch on China’s activities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) but also ramping up infrastructure and enhancing surveillance to stay prepared for any exigency. Against this backdrop, the conference of top commanders of the Indian Army offers a platform to review the country’s combat readiness, particularly in eastern Ladakh, which is witnessing a protracted standoff between Indian and Chinese troops. Hopefully, the brainstorming at the conference will lead to decisions that can help the Army handle the border situation more effectively.
The establishment of an aviation brigade along the LAC is a step towards gaining a strategic edge in airpower, with the Rudra helicopter well equipped to storm the enemy forces and hunt them down. While fortifying its border defences, India has to be on the alert for any misadventure from the Chinese side, especially amid tough conditions during the harsh winter ahead. Provocation from the enemy must evoke a measured and proportionate response.
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