Ahead of SCO Summit, China & India to disengage at Gogra-Hotsprings

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, September 8: Ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit next week, China once more displayed its trademark ‘Salami slicing’ tactics to agree to disengagement in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings (PP-15) in the 16th round of talks between the military commanders in the eastern Ladakh.

“On 8th September 2022, according to the consensus reached in the 16th round of India China Corps Commander Level Meeting, the Indian and Chinese troops in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings (PP-15) have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way, which is conducive to the peace and tranquility in the border areas,” the government in an official statement said on Thursday.

The Chinese President Xi Jinping is heading to Samarkand, Uzbekistan for the SCO Summit on September 16-17. This will be XI’s first visit outside China. His only visit outside the mainland China had been to Hong Kong, as Beijing has clamped an unprecedented ‘Zero Covid Policy’.

The timing of the disengagement at the Gogra-Hotspring, incidentally, runs on a familiar pattern, as China had done something similar ahead of Xi’s India visit in 2019 for the second informal summit, while its People’s Liberation Army had previously had transgressed in the Doklam area.

While China picked up a major standoff with India in the eastern Ladakh in 2020, which included violent skirmishes between the two armies in the Galwan area, Beijing is now being isolated on the world stage after its sabre rattling with Taiwan.

The strategic experts have noted that India now presents a two-front challenge to China.

The US Navy Chief Admiral Mike Gilday recently said that India presents China with a major “two-front problem”.

Major General (Retd) SB Asthana, a security expert, told a news agency that India would continue to respond to every move by the PLA, which would include building infrastructure.

He was referring to India’s push for infrastructure building push by the incumbent Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre in response to Beijing upgrading its military infrastructure on its side of Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Asthana has been arguing on the Ladakh standoff that India would respond with equal measure in a strategic and military sense if the PLA’s aggression at the Ladakh border becomes unbearable.

While the Chinese PLA has been camping at the eastern Ladakh since 2020, the timing of the decision as arrived mutually appears aligned to Beijing’s desperation to take India on board for its bid to counter the western countries.

India, it may be noted, has not obliged China to its requests for the reiteration of the ‘One China Policy’ after the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

There’s no official announcement yet of Modi attending the SCO Summit in person, while he had taken part in the BRICS Meet in the virtual mode.

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