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Galwan And After: Reality Check On India-China Relations

Four years after the Galwan clash and the military standoff between India and China that continues to this day, what lessons can one draw from it? Is there a way forward? Will China continue its belligerent course or does a recent statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the appointment of the Chinese ambassador to Delhi after a gap of 17 months suggest that both sides are looking at some breakthroughs in the near future?

All these questions and more came up at a roundtable organised by StratNews Global almost a month before the 4th anniversary of Galwan. Among the participants were China scholars Jayadeva Ranade of the Centre for China Analysis & Strategy, Lt. Gen. Rakesh Sharma, who commanded 14 Corps overseeing Ladakh, Srikanth Kondapalli, head of East Asia Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Sriparna Pathak associate professor at Jindal Global University.

StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale and Editor Surya Gangadharan anchored the nearly an hour-long discussion.

Ranade believes Galwan was China’s effort to show India its place, that Beijing did not take kindly to Delhi’s efforts for a place at the international table, and that India was trying to rival and outshine China.

Gen Sharma acknowledged that China’s current military posture will remain a challenge to the Indian military planners for a foreseeable future. China has ensured the border is “benign” for them, he noted, but the unprecedented military build up has ensured that the next time India will not be a pushover in any future conflict.

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Prof Kondapalli pointed to the difference in the understanding of the concept of strategic autonomy. The Chinese see it as independence from the US but India sees it as allowing freedom of manoeuvre vis a vis China. He faulted India for its failure to mobilise and bring together all those countries embroiled in territorial disputes with Beijing—Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Sriparna Pathak underscored China’s declining economic growth. Although it claims more than 5 percent GDP growth rate, the reality is that the Chinese economy has not grown more than a little over 1%. That crisis, she argues, suggests Taiwan will have lower priority, at least no move likely on the island this year.

Tune in for more in this conversation marking nearly four years since the Galwan attack and the subsequent military standoff.

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Left to himself, Nitin A. Gokhale would rather watch films and sports matches but his day job as a media entrepreneur, communications specialist, analyst and author, leaves him little time to indulge in his primary interests. Gokhale in fact started his career in journalism in 1983 as a sports reporter. Since then he has, in the past 41 years, traversed the entire spectrum across print, broadcast and digital space. One of South Asia's leading strategic analysts, Gokhale has moved on from conventional media to become an independent media entrepreneur running three niche digital platforms—BharatShakti, StratNewsGlobal and Interstellar—besides undertaking consultancy and training workshops in communications for military institutions, corporates and individuals. Now better known for his conflict coverage and strategic analyses, Gokhale has lived and reported from India’s North-east for 23 years between 1983 and 2006, been on the ground at Kargil in the summer of 1999 and also brought us live coverage from Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV between 2006-2009.    An alumni of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, Gokhale now writes, lectures and analyses security and strategic matters in Indo-Pacific and travels regularly to US, Europe, Australia, South and South-East Asia to take part in various seminars and conferences. Gokhale is also a popular visiting faculty at India’s Defence Services Staff College, the three war colleges, India's National Defence College, College of Defence Management and the IB’s intelligence school.