[RSTV Archive] India-China Ties Post-Galwan

There has been one year since the Galwan Valley clash in which 20 of our soldiers lost their lives and a number of Chinese troops were also killed. Both in terms of geography and numbers, China’s intrusion was neither local nor limited. This incident is touted to be the biggest face-off since the 1962 war.

Background: LAC Dispute

  • In what was the worst clash between the two countries in over 40 years, the Galwan incident reverberated around the world.
  • The casualties in the clash were the first in the disputed Sino-Indian border since 1975.
  • The Galwan episode led to a rapid build-up of forces on both sides of the Line of Actual Control.
  • This incident is being seen as major punctuation in the bilateral relations between India and China and what does the future hold for both neighbors.

Disengagement is yet incomplete

  • Following multiple rounds of talks both at the military and diplomatic levels, an agreement was made on de-escalation and disengagement from all friction points in Ladakh.
  • So far, the two militaries have disengaged only in the Pangong Tso lake area.
  • But other hotspots remain, including the Chinese intrusions in the Depsang plains, Galwan, Goghra and Hot Springs. 
  • Unless the Chinese troops vacate and redeploy along the pre-standoff alignment, a deep dive rebooting of ties might be impossible to commence. 

Where did China focus during these clashes?

  • Chinese focused mainly on Siachin, Galwan areas, Depsang plateau, Kailash Range.
  • This is the side where India always wanted to create a buffer zone since the 1962 war.

What is China’s consideration?

  • There are many theories why China did so, what are its intention.
  • Chinese are demanding area in Depsang side, North Bank of Pangong Tso.
  • Infringement and stalemate persist in these areas since both countries clashed one year ago.
  • China is living in denial.
  • India is in no mood to ignore the “new realities” on the ground, and go ahead with a full- blown trade, commercial and people-to-people relationship between the two civilizational states.

Did India just win at the Line of Actual Control?

Military deterrence and economic and diplomatic maneuvering could not have altered China’s cost-benefit calculus on their own.

  • If China had aimed to coerce India into accepting its territorial claims along the LAC, the massacre at Galwan Valley emboldened New Delhi’s resolve to fight back.
  • Militarily, the effort marked the biggest mobilization of the Indian Armed Forces in recent decades.
  • What followed was a concerted effort to use all of the economic, diplomatic, and military power at India’s disposal to push China to return to the status quo—what it called a “strategy of hurt.”
  • This strategy communicated a simple dictum to Beijing: China should remove its soldiers and its bases, or India would inflict economic, diplomatic, and military costs.
  • Diplomatically, too, India embraced the West more firmly, signing an agreement that furthers military cooperation between the US and QUAD.   It also sent an Indian destroyer to the South China Sea,

Repercussions of this incident

  • The border has gone beyond the red line; it has become a major constraint between the two nations.
  • Chinese will try to link the border issue to another thing: G7, QUAD, Pandemic, Virus is not natural, Chinese involvement in this, Australia joining Malabar exercise.
  • But above everything, geopolitics still remain. Our EAM, S Jaishankar has outrightly clarified that it cannot be business as usual with China.

A lesson for the world

  • Due to increasing engagement of India with the alliances like QUAD, G 7, etc., it is understandably palpable to China regarding the act of deterrence being showcased by the rest of the world.
  • The QUAD, NATO and G7 are identifying China as a malign competitor, which has hegemonic ambitions in guise of trade.
  • The Wuhan Lab Leak theory has raised eyebrows about China’s alleged role in the Coronavirus spread.
  • In any case, the skirmishes with China are global incidences of utmost importance in cognizance with what China does in the South China Sea or Hong Kong.

Roadmap for the world

  • Major countries have a heavy dependency on trade with China which all of a sudden cannot be de-linked.
  • Thus China is a largely globalized country. Nations need to change this and create new alignments.
  • India has to create its own upliftment and reduce dependence on China.

The ball is in China’s court, so the future moves depend on whether it accepts peace in the border through talks or it disengages on its own.

Lessons for China

China needs to scan carefully if it wishes a durable, good neighborly relationship with India:

  1. First, China must not impede India’s rise as a global heavyweight. China should stop being conspicuous in denying India’s presence in other international decision-making bodies such as the UNSC, NSG etc.
  2. Second, China needs to appreciate that India too is a deep civilizational state, whose cultural bandwidth extends from Southeast Asia to West Asia.
  3. Finally, after years of friction, India wants to settle the border issue with China once and for all.

Way forward for India

  • Since the Galwan incident, it is understandable that Indian forces remain vigilant throughout.
  • India is now considering to explore all avenues which will make itself atma-nirbhar.


  • Both sides have a history of prolonged and armed coexistence normally.
  • Only a truly effective and general military deterrent will help India stand up to China’s bullying.
  • And New Delhi today seems more determined than ever to move in that direction.
  • This is likely to be a new phase in not only Sino-Indian ties but also the geopolitics of the larger Indo-Pacific.


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