India and China have begun moving forward-deployed troops and equipment away from some of the disputed areas of the border area. These are the areas where Chinese and Indian troops have been involved in a months-long standoff. The first movement of troops started on Wednesday near Pangong Lake in the Ladakh region. Both Beijing and New Delhi have spoke quite positively of the disengagement. India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh informed Parliament that the withdrawals will be completed in a “phased, coordinated and verified manner.”
The hope among some observers and experts is that this disengagement leads to a broader disengagement and eventual resolution of Sino-Indian border issues in the north. However, not everyone shares this viewpoint. In the eyes of an influential number of former Indian government officials and outside experts, this withdrawal indicates the current Indian government’s acceptance of Beijing’s position regarding the contested border territory. A handful of regional military commentators have also chimed in with their own theories, the most interesting being that the mutual withdrawal from Pangong is a smokescreen intended to mask the fact that China’s true military objective in East Ladakh is Depsang.
Regardless, the disputed Sino-Indian border has had a penchant for straining relations between the two countries in the past. In this most recent crisis the stakes have been higher given the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s ascendancy and India’s increasingly close relations with the United States. It remains to be seen if these mutual withdrawals will be permanent. These forward deployed forces are likely not being removed from the gameboard altogether. A redeployment to another area of the border, or reoccupying the former positions around Pangong would not take very long if ordered.
The fate of Brexit Withdrawal Agreement crafted by Theresa May and her European Union counterparts will be decided when the House of Commons votes on it Tuesday. The end result of tomorrow’s vote is not expected to favor May and the government. Opposition to the deal has not softened since May called off the vote last month. She could postpone the vote again if she wishes too, however, such a move would not help her cause at this point. She has staked the future of the government, as well as her own political future, on Tuesday’s outcome. If it goes in her favor, May will enjoy a major victory and walk away with a large amount of political capital in her pocket. Should the more likely opposite result come about, May will have to take her medicine, so to speak, and accept the results of the vote, and the consequences it brings about.
Those possible consequences are what have many Britons on edge at the moment. May’s government could collapse. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to file a no-confidence motion after the vote is held. This move could potentially bring about a new general election, though the chances of it going so far are small. Other potential scenarios include a new Brexit referendum, a disorderly UK withdrawal from the EU, or a complete scrapping of the Brexit process. May can also try for another vote in the future, although this step should be avoided entirely as it would drop the British political system, and economy into a extended period of uncertainty that neither can afford to weather.
The Brexit crisis in Britain at the moment represents a point where contemporary global political trends have clashed. Populism, protectionism, and nationalism squaring off against globalism and pluralism in a contest that has created a stalemate closely resembling the Western Front in World War I. Whatever comes about following tomorrow’s vote will have a lasting impact on the United Kingdom, and the European Union. This much is certain.