The Chinese people are anxious. The Communist Party of China (CPC) that governs them even more so.
Chinese transgressions along the LAC indicate a significant breakdown of long-standing bilateral agreements and can be considered a tipping point. The situation will likely result in a variegated set of cold wars between India and China.
Prime Minister Modi’s statement at the All Party Meeting on 19 June ended up casting doubt on India’s own behaviour and claims along the LAC and actually encourages further Chinese assertiveness all along disputed sectors on the LAC as well as the temptation to open up fresh disputes.
What should be concerning in the wake of Galwan and the reported loss of lives also of Chinese troops, is that Beijing will now be particularly prone to viewing any Indian action as provocative and seek to respond in an overwhelming manner as a way of saving face.
The deaths of Indian soldiers along the LAC at Galwan is a watershed moment in India-China ties. If the relationship is not to spin out of control, India needs to develop military, economic and intellectual muscle certainly but also adopt transparency and openness to questions as a central plank of the reworking of its China policy.
Quad 2.0 has proceeded more determinedly even if slowly but the Covid-19 pandemic now offers an opportunity to step up the pace. The issue now is of ensuring that Chinese pressure does not derail its development yet again.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the name “Wuhan” has become much better known in India than it ever was for the April 2018 informal summit between Modi and Xi in that city. It remains to be seen which of these two legacies from Wuhan will last in India-China relations.
The world order might require changing but China is not going to be able to take leadership for political and economic reasons
China seems to believe that it will over the next couple of decades have the economic and military capacity to preempt competition or opposition to its will and that this will itself lead to global order and on its terms. But such a world order is actually likely to be an unstable one based as it is on the principle of ‘might is right’.