Having engaged India in protracted talks, China has not only fortified its positions at strategic heights but is also refusing to acknowledge the standoff in Pangong Tso.
Earlier, there was a marked reluctance to vacate the spurs (referred to as 'Fingers') located along the banks of the high-altitude Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh. Not just that, makeshift tents had mushroomed along the rivulets and the contours of the spurs, unmindful of Indian sensibilities.
But, now, the Chinese are assiduously refusing to be drawn into even discussing the disengagement at this prickly point of friction. Their about-turn seems to suggest that they were never serious about holding onto the other points of friction, where they had transgressed into the Indian side.
Rather, these were red herrings that the Chinese had successfully used to distract the Indians from their main agenda -- the sinister intent to change the status quo at Pangong.
The developments on the ground have been accompanied with noises in public domain -- mostly emanating from the Chinese Ambassador and the Foreign Office spokesperson in Beijing -- that the process of disengagement was complete. Implicit in this is the loaded and provocative suggestion that there would be no further retreat.
It is apparent that the military level talks are intended to keep the Indians bogged down while the PLA continues to operate with impunity, building up in-depth areas of Pangong and activating several supply bases in Aksai Chin, capable of rushing in troops for hostile action at short notice (ref: India Today).
On Sunday, the fifth round of talks between the Indian Army Leh Corps Commander, Lt Gen Harinder Singh, and his Chinese counterpart, Maj Gen Lin Liu, were a similar exercise in futility. Experts say that China will make its next move just before winter sets in and India must refurbish its requirements in a high altitude, extremely cold and hostile environment to meet all exigencies.
Senior government sources told NDTV, ''We now need more of everything, clothing for individual soldiers, shoes, and additional stocks.''
The Army has rushed thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border. The IAF has also moved air defence systems as well as a sizable number of its frontline combat jets and attack helicopters to several key air bases. However, China is capable of springing a surprise as they did in 1962, when they distracted us with skirmishes in Galwan, incidentally the site of the recent bloody standoff.