There’s good news coming from the northern border region after weeks of tension and encounters between Chinese and Indian soldiers centering around Galwan Valley in Ladakh. Both sides have withdrawn from positions they took control of in the course of the military engagement, it is said, but questions persist about the ground situation there. The pull-out was facilitated also by high-level discussions involving National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart.

For now, peace has been given a chance. Contentious matters vis-à-vis border disputes are one too many between India and China, and these need be sorted out over the long term. In scenarios where elected governments and Prime Ministers change after every five years, taking these discussions forward to their logical conclusions might not be easy, unless a definite policy is in place. The situation is obviously complicated by the fact that there exist no proper border demarcations between the two countries for the most part. This often gives the excuse to the Chinese to nibble on Indian land in more energetic ways.

Clearly, no one expected the scenario along the northern border to worsen beyond a point in these times of Covid-spread, of which both China and India are victims. There is optimism now that both nations would concentrate on their immediate concerns like controlling the Covid spread and lifting the national economies from the depths to which they have sunk not only here but across the world too. As China is leading the global commerce now, it has much to lose if a war should erupt at this juncture.

Questions remain about Xi Jinping’s frame of mind. He sought to unleash a tsunami which turned out to be a storm in a tea cup. India is a mighty nation and would not cow down to his threats irrespective of the fact that the Chinese military has about five times the strength of India’s. Wars could drain even the most powerful nation’s coffers, as was evident in the case of the US after its military engagement in Iraq. There began its struggles on multiple fronts, and the US economy suffered major reverses as George Bush II stepped aside from the scene after eight years of rule.

It must be stressed that good sense prevailed on the leaderships of China as well as India to have evaded taking matters to the level of a war. The propensity for intruding into Indian territory will do China no special good unless strategic areas are involved. This is time for both nations to act with maturity.

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