India - China: Military Talks; Trust Deficit Continues
The convening of the 17th round of India-China corps commander-level talks in eastern Ladakh on December 20, 12 days after the clash in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern sector, “is a positive development”, according to The Indian Express. “But unfortunately, it does not inspire confidence about Chinese intentions vis a vis the Line of Actual Control…….A joint statement that the two sides agreed to keep talking through military and diplomatic channels toward a ‘mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest’ suggests that there was no outcome from this round. It is also not clear if the ‘remaining’ issues have been agreed upon by both sides…….
“The sector-wise compartmentalisation makes the tensions seem manageable, but the reality appears to be that there is no predicting which part of the 3,500 km of the line will flare up suddenly, as it did on the morning of December 9. Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar flagged the seriousness of the situation when he told Parliament that the Indian deployment at the LAC is at its “highest level”.
China has moved to a security over economics mode
As India debates the latest border clashes with China, Ashutosh Varshney (Sol Goldman professor of international studies and the social sciences at Brown University) suggests “Delhi should keep in mind that China has moved to a security over economics mode, making a Chinese compromise less likely…..China is the second largest economy and market of the world, the largest foreign trader and one of the biggest receivers of foreign investment. Should a clash between security and economics arise, China’s capacity to throw the international economy into disarray will go far beyond natural gas, oil and food grain.”
Therefore, understanding which way China is headed under Xi, argues Varshney “becomes not only a domestic Chinese question but a significant global question. More precisely, is Xi prioritising economics over security, as was the case in China for over three decades after Mao, or is it the other way round?
"More and more China specialists now believe it is the latter….”