There is probably no cause for alarm in the recent incursion of Chinese troops 10 kilometres inside the Indian territory in Ladakh. Though initially the Chinese foreign ministry had strongly rejected India’s claims of an incursion, suggesting that the Chinese troops were on their own side of the border, it has now sought to play down the tensions and has emphasised the good momentum in India-China ties. Indian officials, too, have downplayed the incident by suggesting that differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) may have led to the problem. The government of India is therefore treating the incident as one of the incursions across the LAC that take place from time to time because of errors in the perception of where this line is and which are then resolved peacefully through routine channels. It seeks to settle the issue through existing channels and systems without disturbing the peace and tranquility across the border. There is no evidence yet to show that this incursion is a prelude to a major Chinese assertion of territorial sovereignty in this area.
China has been more assertive of their sovereignty claims with neighbours recently but this is to its east. It has reportedly constructed permanent structures on some of the islands of the South and East China Seas which it disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines and has stepped up aggressive air and naval patrols in the East China Sea, where it has sovereignty disputes with Japan, as also in the South China Sea. However, so far China has not re-asserted claims of sovereignty in areas of border dispute with India. On the contrary, there has been a noticeable keenness on the part of both China and India to avoid any provocative incident either in the Eastern or Western sector of the disputed border. Chinese leaders, in recent months, have expressed their desire to improve ties with India. The Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh met new Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had unveiled a five point formula to improve ties with India, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Durban in March. In continuation of the dialogue, the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is to visit India in May. To all appearances, the two countries have put the complex border issue on the backburner to push forward the ties. Thus, the matter of the current incursion of the Chinese troops in Ladakh should not escalate but be resolved peacefully at the earliest in the interests of the bilateral relationship.