Can the China-India Bilateral Gain Momentum in 2023?
The Tawang incident in December 2022 was not a surprise. Both India and China have been steadily investing in border infrastructure development as their respective forces have entered into clashes with increasingly greater frequency. As both sides sought to achieve a tactical advantage, the potential for another clash was not out of question. Moreover, while India had reinforced its position in the western sector of the LAC, Arunachal Pradesh remained vulnerable.
However, the timing of the incident was certainly a surprise. That an transgression/incursion occurred days after the (admittedly brief) exchange between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping along the side lines of the G20 summit in Bali – a first since 2020. This gives a measure of the still-deteriorating trust between the countries and little chance of normalization in the coming times.
At the same time, there is little prospect of a major military escalation that pushes them into an all-out war. Rather, both states will continue to keep their armed forces on high alert, with India preparing for future infractions at critical junctures along the LAC. Additionally, India and China can both be expected to continue their substantial investments in upgrading military infrastructure along the borders, in tandem with deploying additional troops in sensitive regions.
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