When China commenced its coercive and aggressive posturing at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh in April 2020, it was against the run of play that we witnessed a downturn in Sino-Indian relations. Just six months prior, President Xi Jinping had come calling at Mamallapuram, a coastal town of Tamil Nadu, as a sequel to PM Narendra Modi’s Wuhan diplomacy.
Clearly, perceptions changed quite drastically in those six months, or they were already set to change before Xi Jinping decided to return Modi’s call.
Two interesting things had happened in the short period of three years prior to April 2020. The Doklam standoff of 72 days in 2017 had surprised China. It ended at China’s initiative because Xi Jinping could ill-afford to have a border standoff festering with a member of BRICS even as the BRICS summit was being conducted at Wuhan. The 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party followed shortly thereafter and this understanding applied there too.