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Why India, China want to disengage at LAC, & how standoff has changed the strategic picture

In episode 617 of ‘Cut The Clutter’, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta explains the bargaining chips India has in the negotiations with China.   

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New Delhi: In the backdrop of the eighth round of corps commanders meeting between India and China last week over the standoff in Eastern Ladakh, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta explains that to reach a favourable outcome in a negotiation, one should have some strengths — chips to put on the table.

In episode 617 of ‘Cut The Clutter’, Gupta says that the Indian Army holds such chips.

Gupta goes on to explain that after the standoff began on 20 April, the Chinese occupied Finger 4 at Pangong Tso, adding that the Indian Army on 29 and 30 August took positions on the crest line of Kailash range. Thus, he adds, negotiations between the two countries would be focused on whether status quo should be restored to what it was until 20 April or 29-30 August

Strategic importance of taking position on Kailash range

Explaining what the Indian Army did on the night of 29-30 August, Gupta says they climbed the entire Kailash range and took all the dominating heights on the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso lake. 

Referring to an article by Lt Gen H.S. Panag (retd),  Gupta explains that going up to these high locations on the Southern Bank neutralised the advantage the Chinese might have had when they took position at the patrolling points in the Depsang region.  

Gupta adds that if the Chinese threaten India through Depsang and the Daulat Beg Oldi, India has the ability to go into the Chinese underbelly through the Spanggur gap and Moldo Garrison. And, he adds, it is also the closest access to China’s Xinjiang Tibet Highway. 

Calling the Indian Army’s actions on 29 and 30 August “heroic and dashing”, Gupta says it has now given “India a new bargaining position”. And a “bunch of negotiating chips”, which India did not have earlier. 

According to Gupta, the question was to go back to the status quo ante of April or August, because if it was the former, then India would have to come down from the Kailash range, which some military commanders are anxious about. 

Gupta says the Kailash range had never been occupied earlier, adding that people such as General Panag have called for India to sit on the range and if China demands more and wants India to get off these heights, then it would have to make concessions in Depsang. 

The worry, Gupta says, is that if India got off the heights (of the Kailash range) then China would never let India get back on as they now know what India is capable of. 

Speaking about the Indian Army, Gupta says it is no pushover but in fact a very tough army that can take attrition as well as inflict attrition. And it also has a great deal of expertise in higher altitude warfare. 

By taking position on the Kailash range, India is no longer negotiating from a position of weakness. 

Also read: Talks with China going forward, another round on Ladakh disengagement soon, says India

The benefits of disengagement

Speaking about the benefits of disengagement, Gupta explains that it benefits both countries as India is in a crisis situation in so many other areas, while for the Chinese, the diplomatic, military, and political consequences of this would be phenomenal. And this could also distract them from their priorities in the area of Taiwan or South China Sea, which Gupta says was a “calculation”. 

“So, both sides, it seems are now keen on disengagement,” Gupta says. 

The next round of talks will focus on withdrawing heavy artillery and armoured tanks and the negotiations will be regarding how far back to take them, Gupta says.

India does not want to scale too far back because if China’s intentions change, it will take India much longer to bring back its artillery and deploy it in the battle zone.

India’s options

Concluding his episode, Gupta reiterates that both China and India knew that in Ladakh the terrain worked to India’s disadvantage. And it is very tough for India to defend Ladakh against a really determined Chinese push. However, the picture was very different in the eastern sector as there the terrain works to India’s advantage.  

“So remember that push comes to the shove, India has options. And the Chinese know that,” Gupta says.

He also asserts that theories of the US President being elected out and Joe Biden being elected in (almost), which would result in India’s negotiating position weakening was a “whole lot of nonsense” and “hogwash”. India will not settle for less, he says.

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  1. Why Cannot we debate, Normally.

    With Material facts, Not fiction that goes dailly on TV.

    Without assuming an ‘Agenda’ in play. After all Respecting diversity is, what made india great for centuries. ..

  2. If Hindus have self belief, why do you have an inferiority complex ?

    Why is it you are touching Xi’s feet and Trump’s feet ?

    The Print has the following article trending ‘Pakistanis are wrong. Indian Army’s videos of LoC bunker hits are real, not from Syria’.

    You have to write such articles because you know you were unsuccessful and you have low self esteem. When many in the world including Indians doubt Balakot strike hit anything, why do you expect to persuade Pakistanis ?

    It was staged for the election. The timing was perfect. But with the Chinese on the LAC, Modi is quiet as a mouse. Even Hindus will have difficulty passing that of as a success !

    • Rasgolla seems to be west bengal commie or TMC. His comments are amusing and shows his ignorance in International matters just like the Trinomul cadres and known for their hate for Modi. Does he knows about the Chinese casualties I don’t think so.

    • Ha ha ha You are just a paki beggar, sucka china hard paki otherwise you won’t get your daily chapati…what a joke, you lost every war with india, your sell your sister to china for some cheap rupees, we dont need your advise

  3. Why does the print allow this “rasgolla” handle to publish comments? It is 100% an ISPR handle and is extremely irritating. Please block such handles. Yes we want comments from real Pakistanis or from any other country, but no fake accounts.

    • It is extremely irritating – because I write the truth and you cannot refute it. So you want censorship. You would never ask for censorship of Hindutva propaganda, would you ?

      • That’s what most Indians did to anyone speaking truth on India that is not endearing to their ears.

        They don’t debate on facts but often curse with abusing words, accusing everyone as Pakistani or Chinese.

        They will flagged and complaints endlessly until your account get banned permanently, as way of concealing India’s dark side instead of refuting with facts.

        You can find similar situation in most news sites, forums, Quora, FB, Twitter, etc. Its completely infested and overwhelmed.

  4. Mr rasgolla, it looks your neanthradal brain is as stupid as your brain…. Most of the international community had accepted that their was a balakot strike… The only people who did not believed were Pakistan and some traitor Muslims of India……Their was some reason that Pakistan was not letting media reach the position of Balakot surgical strike since they were afraid that it will expose their policy of support to terrorists….. Also Pakistan’s fighter plane was also crashed but Pakistan did not accepted it as always…… Now talking about Abhinandan everyone knows why he was returned to India.Their minister have just stated in Parliament that legs if general bajwa were shaking because they were afraid of Modi’s Indian Army…..
    Hope my reply would have cleared some trash from your logicless brain…..

    • Your reply made me laugh !

      I never said the international community denied Balakot strike. They doubted the strike hit any valuable target. Cite me an international report that says that India took out a terror camp – rather than India says it took out a camp.

      ‘general bajwa were shaking because they were afraid of Modi’s Indian Army…..’

      Like the Chinese were also shaking after Amit Shah’s announcement he will retake Aksai Chin by force.

      Modi’s Indian army – yes, it is his personal Hindu army. That is why it lost land recently. Hindus like you are all mouth and no trousers and the army is the same now.

  5. Don’t believe any of it. SG is just trying to put on a brave face after getting a beating. It is like after the Pulwama attack, India supposedly did a surgical strike. India claimed to hit a camp in Balakot, but the international community disbelieved it. The only tangible thing we know is an Indian plane was shot down – because Pak captured the pilot and he returned him. But Hindus believed it was a victory and voted for Modi. Many Hindus are delusional people and can be fed mythology and made up stories. Many have a peculiarly irrational mind set. Now SG is talking as if India is dictating terms to China. All this while, Modi was running after Xi and touching his feet, and defining the Indo-China relationship with one of his stupid acronyms (STREANH , his spelling of STRENGTH).

    The article appears to be a sop to all the angry Hindus who complain here of The Print being the voice of China !

    • Rasgolla, i appreciate your often great comments together with “Observer”, filled with facts and objective.

      Unfortunately, most Indians dislike to hear truth that is not in line with chaukidar of RSS BJP. They will abuse you as they did to any truthful Indians that speak out hoping for a change of better India.

  6. It more interesting to watch the video rather than to read a summary of it in the form of an article. I think better to stick to the video only.

    • Rosogulla’s comments sound like the rantings of a commie. Poor Hindu bashing leftists – they’ve been thrashed repeatedly by the delusional, irrational Hindus…. fed on myth.

      The proof of the pudding is in the eating – proof that the mythical narrative of the left liberal cabal has been outdone by the reality of Hindu self belief. Commies outsted from power all over the world except Cuba, China and Cerala.

      The allusion to ‘no proof’ for Balakot, is only believed by his type and the followers of
      poor Prince Pappu…. A narrative which has no resonance in Hindu minds or hearts. And with the installation of Vivekanand in their training ground which is JNU, his lot will very soon be left with an aged group of leaders with no followers.

      This doesn’t mean I agree with Shekhar Gupta’s narratives or sympathies. He seems like a hidden sympathizer of the old order which has yielded place to the new.

      The age of the English speaking elite is done and dusted. Suggest Shekhar reinvent himself – question his not so subtle leanings towards a cabal who are on their way to be thrown into the garbage dump of history and perhaps make Hindi his language of Choice.

      • Communism is the best anti-dote to fascism. The Soviet Union tore the Nazi state to shreds and made sure it cannot rise again. The communists know what Sanghis are.

        ‘The allusion to ‘no proof’ for Balakot, is only believed by his type and the followers of poor Prince Pappu…. A narrative which has no resonance in Hindu minds or hearts.’

        The international community does not question a strike in Balakot, they question whether there was the damage claimed. I go with the international community.

        As for your sort of Hindu minds, they are largely non-existent and incapable of objectivity, and Hindu hearts of your type are mostly dank. That is why what you think does not resonate with other Indians.

        ‘The age of the English speaking elite is done and dusted. ‘

        I trust the new age Hindus will be staying in India with Hindi and gomutra and will not beg Biden for H1 B visas.

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