The latest standoff on the India-China border represents an escalation of the sort not seen since 1962. We have had many standoffs since then, but it always involved differing perceptions about the Line of Actual Control. In most sectors, there is an overlap of these lines with Indian and Chinese claim lines going beyond each other’s LAC, sometimes by a few meters and sometimes by many kilometers. But we had tested Confidence Building Measures in place to keep the peace. The latest standoff at the Galwan Valley, however, represents a People’s Liberation Army ingress into a hitherto undisputed area. By doing so, China has thrown down the gauntlet. How does India now respond?

At Galwan, the People’s Liberation Army found an unguarded but very strategic spot on the LAC and occupied it. This places it less than 2 km from the newly rebuilt strategic all-weather Durbuk-Daulat Beg Oldi road that supports the lone Indian outpost of Daulat Beg Oldi at the mouth of the Karakorum Pass. It happened in a sector supposed to be guarded by the Home Ministry’s Indo Tibetan Border Police.

Each year, the People’s Liberation Army conducts an exercise on the Aksai Chin and its immediate forward areas along the LAC....

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