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Prolonged impasse on China border can have high economic costs for India: Shyam Saran

REPORT-2-ENG-05-09-2020-India

There is a considerable deployment of Indian and Chinese troops on both sides of the border and a continuing standoff during the winter season may lead to high economic costs and a "fairly prolonged impasse", former foreign secretary Shyam Saran said on Thursday. The comments came amid the Ministry of External Affairs saying on Thursday that the situation witnessed in the border areas in eastern Ladakh over the past four months is a "direct result" of actions taken by China aimed at effecting unilateral change in the status quo of the region.

In an interview with a news website, Saran said, "The Chinese have suggested that the process of disengagement is complete -- as if nothing more needs to be done. There does not seem to be any intention, for example, to vacate some of the additional areas which they have occupied in the Pangong lake area..."

Saran also said, "My sense is, if this, for example, continues during the winter -- which would be very difficult because this area is very inhospitable during winter - it would require a considerable investment in setting up heated dwelling units, making certain you have enough equipment for use during very very severe winters."

"If that is going to happen then I imagine that there will be a fairly prolonged impasse between them," he added.

Saran also said he believes India imposing serious economic costs on China may not work.

Noting that India is the fastest-growing market for several Chinese companies, he said the question to ask is whether the fortunes of these Chinese companies are important enough to the government to moderate their position with regard to the territorial issue.

India and China have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks in the last two-and-half months amid a border standoff in the eastern Ladakh area.