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NEW DELHI: India’s ties with China and not just Pakistan are likely to get even worse than they already are, according to the US’s intelligence chief.
“We expect relations between India and China to remain tense and possibly to deteriorate further, despite the negotiated settlement to their three-month border standoff in August, elevating the risk of unintentional escalation,” said Coats during a hearing on ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment’ of the US intelligence community yesterday.
The US intelligence chief was referring to the standoff between India and China in Doklam on the border. The confrontation ended last August after both countries agreed they will pulled out their troops from the face-off site.
The uneasy truce continues to be punctuated by aggressive rhetoric from China toward India, especially by its foreign ministry as well its state-controlled media.
What the US’s intelligence chief is talking about is the possibility that this tense truce, because of its fraught nature, may escalate tensions even if India and China don’t provoke.
As it is, China’s doing plenty to provoke.
In November, China stridently objected to defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to the border state of Arunachal Pradesh. Then, it said it “never acknowledged” the existence of Arunachal Pradesh. This, after a media report said Chinese troops intruded into territory in Arunachal Pradesh for about 200 meters. China claims Arunachal Pradesh is part of South Tibet.
The Chinese intrusion in Arunachal Pradesh reportedly took place around the time National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi held the 20th round of border talks in New Delhi on December 22.
The Doklam standoff began on June 16 after People’s Liberation Army’s troops began building a road in an area claimed by Bhutan. Indian troops intervened to stop it, saying it posed a security risk to the ‘Chicken Neck’, the narrow corridor connecting India with its northeastern states.
The standoff ended on August 28 following an agreement under which China stopped the road building and India withdrew its troops.