Military commanders of India and China met on Wednesday for the 14th time to discuss the pullback of troops in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control. The border crisis was triggered by the intrusion of the People’s Liberation Army into the Indian side of the LAC in May 2020. The protracted stand-off has yet to be resolved.
Corps Commander’s of India and China met at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side. The talks were long and laborious with both the Indian and PLA teams quibbling over every minor point. There was no progress on disengagement from the Hot Spring area, the main agenda of the meeting, India also raised the issue of Depsang Bulge and Demchok. The marathon 13-hours of conversation produced no breakthrough.
Yet neither side has dubbed it as a total failure. The fact that a joint statement was issued after the talks is a positive sign. In the last round of military commanders meeting in October, the talks broke down with the two sides taking pot shots at each other in separate statements issued at the end of the meeting.
The military commanders’ talks are aimed at working out the withdrawal to positions held by both armies at the end of April 2020. The incursions across the LAC began in May, culminating in the Galwan clash on May 15. The confrontation in Galwan was a primitive and savage encounter, when the two sides fought with sticks and stones and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese were killed in the encounter on June 15. The loss of Indian lives has angered the nation and led to a near freeze in ties between Asia’s two major powers. The trust deficit implicit in India-China ties since the 1962 border war have now been further reinforced in India.
Beijing does not help matters by its aggressive stand. Building a bridge over the Pangong lake, giving Chinese names to Indian villages on the Arunachal border and flying the Chinese flag in Galwan at the start of the New Year, though on the Chinese side of the LAC, is meant to annoy India.
``The two sides had a frank and in-depth exchange of views for the resolution of the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector. They agreed that both sides should follow the guidance provided by the State Leaders and work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest. It was noted that this would help in restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector and enable progress in bilateral relations,’’ the joint statement released on Tuesday evening said.
The Indian delegation at the talks was led by Lt Gen Anindya Sengupta, the newly-appointed Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps. The Chinese side by South Xinjiang Military District Chief Maj Gen Yang Lin.
Meanwhile China’s foreign office spokesman criticised India’s army chief M.M.Naravane’s statement about Chinese threat in the region. "We hope relevant people on the Indian side will refrain from making unconstructive remarks," he said in response to a question. ends .