By attacking Tawang, Beijing wants to send a message to Dalai Lama as well as India. Also, by destabilizing Tawang, China wants to put pressure on India to start full border talks. According to Delhi’s diplomatic camp, Beijing wants to portray the occupation of Indian land by the Chinese army in the western sector of the border (Ladakh) as the new status quo or ‘New Normal’.
Their strategy, if border talks with India can be started in this situation, they will gradually gain legitimacy in the area of a couple of thousand kilometers of India that they hold. New Delhi is expressing such fears domestically.
Statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs
According to the sources of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the South Block is unwilling to step into this trap of Beijing. Recently, former Chinese ambassador Song Weidong in his farewell speech in October highlighted the withdrawal of troops from the Gogra hot spring area (last September), saying that the India-China border has now returned to a ‘normal situation’ from a ‘state of emergency’. Weidong managed to avoid Chinese military bases in different areas including Daulatbag Oldi.
But External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at that time that the withdrawal of troops from the Gogra hot spring area was only a solution to the problem. There are more problems. India has repeatedly told China that the problem in the western sector i.e. Ladakh has not been solved at all, and has raised the issue in the international arena. The Joint Statement of the December 20 Indo-China Commander Level Meeting (on the Western Front) at the Chushul Maldo border was released yesterday. There too, there are several references to the ‘outstanding issue’ of bringing peace to the border. That is, according to Delhi, by pressuring China, at least it has been put in the joint statement that the problem (infiltration and entrenchment of Chinese troops) still exists in the Ladakh sector.
External Affairs Ministry sources said the 2005 India-China Border Framework Agreement stipulated that neither side could move the population once settled. New Delhi feels that Beijing is taking steps like building a Chinese village in Bhutan, giving Chinese names to new areas in Arunachal with that clause in mind. Similarly, if Chinese troops start living in Depsang or Daulatbag Oldi, China can trap them in the 2005 agreement.
But to establish a ‘new status quo’ in the western sector, why Tawang attack in the eastern sector? The Ministry of External Affairs says the reasons are multiple. First, destabilizing Tawang in the eastern sector will increase pressure on India to initiate special representative-level (national security adviser-level) meetings (which have been stalled since 2020). In that case, the land occupied by China in the western sector will gradually be sealed by Beijing. Second, Beijing has historically had an eye on Tawang.
It is the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. The Buddhist monastery was built here under the orders of the 5th Dalai Lama. The current Dalai Lama entered India through Tawang.