High stakes hopes in Ladakh on Modi’s participation in BRICS summit, and possible meeting with Chinese president

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | August 22, 2023 IST

Ladakh

Arun Joshi

 The 15th BRICS  summit in Johannesburg, South Africa beginning today – Tuesday- is being viewed with lot of excitement and nervousness by the people in Ladakh whose lives have been made uncertain by more than three-year-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. They are hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be able to address and resolve thee issue once and for all. If he happens to meet Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the summit. There exists a possibility.

 In more than one ways, it is an issue that has been troubling the whole of the nation, as it has become a major issue of national security which affects both its external and internal dimensions. India has not had such a prolonged – more than 40 -month -long military standoff in peace-time. this has incurred heavy military costs. India had lost 20 of its soldiers, including a Commanding Officer, during Galwan  Valley clashes with Chinese troops on June15/16, 2020 , within six weeks of the start of the standoff. Besides , now nearly 70,000 troops have been deployed to avert any fresh clashes and eruption of crisis at the LAC, matching the number of soldiers deployed by  China. Now this cost is extending to the lifestyle of the local residents , who see the continued standoff as a source of permanent threat. It may not be a war , but nevertheless it is war-like situation to which they cannot shut their eyes.

 Modi , before his departure for the summit in  Johannesburg on Tuesday morning , raised the possibility of the bilateral meetings with the leaders  attending the summit. Though he did not name Xi Jinping  in his statement , but there exists a window for their meeting on the sidelines of the summit . The stakes for both sides are very high , and  if they succeed , that would be mutually beneficial enterprise for both the countries .

A hope of sort has emerged out of PM Modi’s statement , in which he specified that he is looking forward to “ interacting with a number of guest countries that have been invited to participate in the event .” He added with a stress “ “ I also look forward to holding bilateral meetings with some of the leaders present in Johannesburg.”

This is what the population in the strategically located Ladakh , the  eastern part of which is a witness to more than three-year-long  standoff sees as a primer to the bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi.. They are aware of the persuasive  power of Prime Minister and the authority with which he handles the sensitive global and bilateral relations would prevail . The only thing required is that China should see reason and act accordingly .

They are hoping that the two leaders would meet and put their stamp on the resolution of the border issue , which has become a matter of grave national concern across the nation. This has raised political, diplomatic  and military stakes for India , for it is the victim of the Chinese aggression at the LAC in eastern Ladakh .The real problem is that China is not willing to, rather it has adopted a stubborn attitude on the issue- The Chinese military continues to be in the areas close to the LAC  in complete violation of the agreements of peace and tranquility signed by the two countries in 1990s.  Modi, it is hoped , will be able to make Chinese president  see reason and futility of the obduracy . China  wants

At  this point in time , it has refused to  disengage from Despang plains and Demchok  areas. This is a livewire situation . Undoubtedly , the Indian side has built extraordinarily high-quality roads and infrastructures  leading up to the LAC , but these are too short and too late movement in the day when it comes to the infrastructure and connectivity on the other side of the  borderline. Chinese  are  years ahead of India in these sectors .

There exists a possibility that Modi and Xi may hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of BRICS summit in Johannesburg. And if this meeting takes place, it may address the stand-off at LAC issue and seek its resolution through diplomatic and peaceful means . That would be mutually beneficial for both the countries. India’s prestige both a at home and abroad is at stake. The fifth largest economy and emerging global leader cannot afford to have tension on borders with  China -  the two oldest civilizations in the world , and which can draw more benefits from each other through friendly bilateral relations  which at this time are more than strained . China is suffering from decline in its economy.  The western investors have started moving out of China or they have deferred their plans to invest in China, which has triggered tensions all around, from tense military standoff with  India , to heightening trade and military tensions with the United States over South China Sea, with Japan on Solomon islands and  intensified military drills across Taiwan Straits,   is not in a position to pursue its global agenda. There can be nothing better and promising for Beijing than to have good bilateral ties with Delhi, and the  BRICS summit offers Beijing an opportunity to seize. It is already too late.

(Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)

Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

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