Indian Army Northern Theater Commander, Joshi, recently gave an exclusive interview to India’s New18 television station to review the situation since the Sino-Indian border standoff. This is the first time that a senior officer of the Indian Army has spoken about the situation in public. In addition to saying that the current disengagement process is progressing smoothly, he went on to project “India’s victory” and declared that “China has been disgraced”, arousing (much) public attention.
Josh said, “After the disengagement was initiated, the two sides held talks every morning to discuss the actions of the day, and exchanged information through the hotline every evening. If any problems were encountered, they would be resolved at the meeting held the next morning”. “The Chinese side has shown sincerity in the disengagement process,” he said, adding that “the Agreement is being implemented at a very fast pace”. He revealed that the Indian side monitored the entire withdrawal of Chinese armored vehicles and mechanized troops through satellites and drones, and that both sides had installed cameras and other “to check each other’s activities”.
In response to the question of whether India had “lost territory,” Joshi denied it. He said the Indian side has always sought withdrawal of Chinese troops to the eighth finger area on the northern shore of Pangong Lake as the bottom line of negotiations. Most importantly, the Chinese side agreed not to engage in any military or non-military activities in the area between the fourth and eighth fingers. Therefore, the Indian side considers the current disengagement agreement a “huge success”.
According to Joshi, the Indian army’s capture of the commanding heights near the Rizang La and Raching La passes on Aug. 29-30 last year was a key step in turning the country from passive to proactive in the standoff and subsequent negotiations. In the interview, Joshi admitted that India “struggled” in the first five rounds of India-China talks at the level of army commanders. The situation did not change until the seventh round of talks between the two sides. He emphasized that India conveyed a clear message of “not yielding” to the Chinese side and insisted on restoration of status quo ante as in April 2020.
Joshi also said that there was a risk of armed conflict during the standoff. He said that after the Galwan Valley incident, the Indian army has been authorized to fire back freely. When the Indian army occupied the commanding heights of the Rizangla Pass and the Rachin La Pass, the Chinese army also tried to climb to the top. The Indian army was already “prepared to pull the trigger”, but “it takes more courage to refrain from pulling the trigger than in pulling it” and this decision avoided a war. Joshi also stated that “within 48 hours after the disengagement is completed (at this stage), the two sides will hold the tenth round of military commander-level talks to resolve (the differences on) other confrontation sites”. He said that the two sides should resolve the friction through negotiations in the future, and “at some stage proceed to initiate clarification of the Line of Actual Control”.
Earlier, India’s opposition Congress party and others criticized the Indian government’s current disengagement agreement with China for “being helpless against humiliation of the country”. Some analysts told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao that Joshi’s public remarks at this time, although seemingly absurd, undoubtedly served as “political decompression” for the Modi government by projecting the so-called tough stance against China and proclaiming a “comprehensive victory” for the government in regaining the (territories) lost in the confrontation with China.
However, with the simultaneous synchonised disengagement of the Chinese and Indian armed forces on the north and south sides of Pangong Lake, the Indian government’s previous hard line policy on China seems to be relaxing. According to a Reuters report of the 17th, an anonymous Indian government official has disclosed that India is ready to approve and approve some investment plans from China in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Shringla, the Foreign Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who is visiting Russia, said that the development of India-China relations would remain dependent on conditions at the border between the two countries. He also emphasized that India-China relations are complex, but the bilateral relations have made considerable progress over the past few decades.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying expressed the hope on the 18th that China and India will continue to meet each other halfway to ensure smooth completion of the disengagement process.