There is little that India can do now except to pursue its strengthening the infrastructure along the border
Given China’s obstinacy in insisting on separating the border issue from the rest of the ties with India, it came as no surprise that the talks ended in a stalemate. Any chance of disengagement in points along LAC at places like Depsang and Demchok will remain frozen so long as China stays stubborn about not giving an inch on the negotiations to go back to pre-May 2020 positions.
The joint statement at the conclusion of two days of the meeting at the level of senior military commanders repeated ad nauseam that the two sides only “agreed to resolve the remaining issues speedily and maintain peace and tranquillity on the ground”.
So stubborn is China regarding its sticking to the current positions along the LAC after the skirmishes of 2020 that India may as well be talking to one of those Chinese good luck charms that keep moving a hand in perpetual motion.
The status quo is advantageous to China after having convinced India into surrendering a sliver of benefit in having captured some heights in mountainous terrain overlooking Pangong Lake. Things have come to such a pass now that even routine Indian patrolling on the strategic Depsang plains is not being allowed to resume by China.
It is an enervating compulsion of diplomacy that the countries keep talking regardless of how remote a breakthrough may be regarding a fuller disengagement. There is little that India can do now except to pursue its strengthening the infrastructure along the border and pouring troops into contentious sectors.
The insincerity behind the comments that the Chinese President Xi Jinping purportedly made in a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bali last year stands starkly exposed. It may be futile to place even residual hope in possible one-on-one meetings on the sidelines of other global forums like BRICS and G-20 in the remainder of the year between Mr Xi and Mr Modi. China will not budge, and India has to resolve to toughen up.