Indo-US BECA Aftermath: China Feels the Heat, Delays Talks with India

Foreign Affairs

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New Delhi: Inking of the landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) between India and the United States appears to have become a matter of concern for Beijing which has been locked in a bitter standoff with New Delhi in eastern Ladakh for past above five months.

India and China were expected to hold the eighth round of Corps Commander-level talks last week but Beijing reportedly delayed the meeting.

This comes as US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived New Delhi on October 26 on a two-day visit for the Indo-US 2+2 dialogue during which they are expected to discuss several key and strategic issues, including the ongoing border tension between India and China in eastern Ladakh and Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

On October 27, India and the US signed the BECA, the last of four foundational agreements for strengthening defence ties which will allow the militaries of the two countries to share geospatial information, high-end military technology and classified satellite data helpful for defence-related issues.

The fast-expanding strategic and defence ties between the US and India is apparently bothering China which is facing the heat over its aggressive military behaviour in the eastern Ladakh and Indo-Pacific region.

India and China have been locked in a bitter standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas in eastern Ladakh.

The tension between the two countries escalated following the June 15-16 Galwan Valley clash in which 20 Indian Army soldiers including a Colonel were killed.

Since then, the two sides have held several rounds of talks at military and diplomatic levels to end the deadlock but there has been no significant headway as of now.

Last month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi had agreed upon the five-point consensus to defuse the border tensions that included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements restoring “peace and tranquillity” along the LAC.

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