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A hard-hitting Indian statement on Thursday carried a sting in the very last line by conveying that all gains made in the bilateral relationship in the past three decades will be lost if China does not de-escalate and disengage the PLA forces from the LAC. “India is quite capable of handling the military to military posture on the LAC but the entire economic relationship will go for a toss if PLA does not de-escalate. It cannot be business as usual for China if this situation continues. It is this call that General Secretary Xi Jinping has to take,” said a senior official.

Even though there has not been any military flying by the Chinese Air Force in the past three days, PLA has amassed troops all along the LAC with artillery and missile support. Its posture along the 1,597 km LAC in Ladakh is threatening with troops ready for the red flag to go up. Its military air bases at Kashgar, Hotan, Yarkand, Korla and Gor Gunsa are battle ready.

However, the PLA is rather unhappy at the change of military attitude shown by the 16 Bihar Indian Army unit at the June 15 Galwan flare-up and the Indian posture at Daulet Beg Oldi. With the Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road complete, India has made game changing military posture near the Karakoram pass with the deployment of T-90 tanks, Russian BMP amphibious infantry fighting vehicles and American M-777 155mm howitzers.

Indian troops deployed on the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region, in fact, prevent Pakistan from the west and China from the east joining forces through the Karakoram Pass to threaten Ladakh. China is also fast expanding its footprint in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project

With the Indian deployment of state-of-the-art weaponry at the highest DBO post and all advance landing grounds, including Nyoma active, the PLA will suffer heavy casualties in case it tries to bully across the LAC.The Army has already inducted three additional divisions into Ladakh, along with more tanks and artillery guns, while others are being kept on standby. “Additional battalions of Ladakh Scouts and IBTP have also been deployed in eastern Ladakh. Enhanced preparations are in place for any eventuality, with  troops trained and geared for mountain warfare. Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters are also conducting regular combat air patrols over Ladakh to send a signal.

The DSDBO road has been the turning point for India as the strategic axis had put paid to all Chinese plans to occupy Ladakh by linking up to Siachen Glacier and virtually make Indian defences untenable in Kashmir. Had the Indian governments in the past agreed to so-called peaceniks who wanted Indian Army to demilitarize Siachen or turn it into a park, the Chinese plan would have become a reality.

The last major troop face-off in Depsang took place in April-May 2013 after PLA troops intruded 19 km across the LAC. Though it was resolved after 21 days through hectic diplomatic negotiations, China has always coveted the Depsang area, just about 35 km south of the Karakoram Pass, which in turn is at the tri-junction of the China-Pakistan-India border.

While the Chinese posture on LAC continues to be aggressive, the clock is ticking on the bilateral relationship as India has made up its mind that it will slam the economic door on Beijing if dis-engagement does not take place within weeks.

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