The situation at the India-China border remains tense with the Chinese PLA now accusing Indian troops of illegally crossing the LAC and firing “threats” at Chinese patrol personnel. The Indian army, however, has said that it is the Chinese side that fired shots in the air. This raises the possibility of further skirmishes between the two armies. For, the entire LAC from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh is on the edge. There are now reports that the PLA abducted five Indian youths from Arunachal. All of this shows that we are on the verge of entering a dangerous escalation matrix that could lead to full-blown war.
If that happens, it would be a catastrophe for the entire region and a major international crisis. The problem is that China is taking a maximalist position and unilaterally changing the status quo on the ground. This is different from previous Chinese incursions in that the PLA this time is actually fortifying its intruded positions.
But India too can’t cede an inch of its territory and has rightly been undertaking pre-emptive measures to counter Chinese designs. Both sides shouldn’t allow further escalation. Talks at both the military and diplomatic levels are the only way this crisis can be managed. After defence minister Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghei in Moscow, foreign minister S Jaishankar is slated to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. The discussions should focus on immediately curbing frictions at the border. Things can’t be allowed to get any worse.