In a view to settle the border disputes, India and China are holding a peace talk at the Brigade Commander plus Battalion Commander level in Eastern Ladakh at Galwan valley area also Hot Springs. As per army source, there has been disengagement between Indian and Chinese troops at more locations where there has been in standoff position previously.
Currently, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has around 10,000 troops, supported by about 100 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, two regiments of artillery, fighter jets and AWACS in the rear areas behind Galwan and Pangong. The buildup extends from the northern part, that is the Daulat Beg Oldi or DBO area, right down to Chushul in the south.
Top government sources said that talks regarding de-escalation in the rear areas have begun, wherein “deinduction” or, gradually moving back extra troops will be the focus of discussion. There is a hope that the thinning in the rear areas can happen reports Times-News Now.
A series of discussion is expected to happen in this week two military to military meetings on the ground in Ladakh and an important diplomatic meeting at the Indian joint-secretary and Chinese director-general level. This could happen early in the week.
Top government sources said that things are moving forward incrementally; there is a sense of optimism. There is also a realisation that escalation does not benefit either side. However, there will be no big-ticket move.
History of Conflict in Ladakh:
India and China have a long history of conflict at the border area in Ladakh. Chinese soldiers had attacked a group of India’s reserve police and members of the intelligence bureau on October 21, 1959, in the west of Lanak La Pass in Ladakh, just south of the Galwan river valley, where recent tensions have surfaced–causing India to lose ten soldiers, and the PLA took seven prisoners. The events were a warmup before the war with China took place in 1962.
During the time of the India-China war of 1962, both the countries were much weaker global military and economic powers. The war had sowed the seeds of mistrust irrevocably as it came after a period of intense friendship between the countries in the post-independence Nehru years. However, since the reign of Rajiv Gandhi, the countries have been holding several rounds of discussion to resolve their border disputes, which went in vain.
On November 3, 2019, China’s state-owned Global Times stated, “Not recognizing the legitimacy of the “Union Territory of Ladakh”, China may reinforce its defense at borders with India, will firmly safeguard its sovereignty and territories and enhance communication with Pakistan and jointly oppose India’s move that breaks the status quo.”
Pangong Tso Case:
The Pangong Tso territory has been marked by ridges known as “Fingers” in increasing serial order towards the Chinese territory. On multiple occasions, the territory up to Finger 8, has been unofficially claimed by India to be its part. However, last month, Chinese troops encroached up to Finger 4, resulting in a violent clash between the oppositions and leaving several soldiers wounded.
Though the situation eventually came under control as both armies stuck to protocols to resolve the matter, but the tension remained along LAC.
The Chinese objected the building of a bridge connecting Daulat Beg Oldi, India’s last military post south of the Karakoram pass, to Point 14. However, India has said that the construction of the 255-km long Darbuk-Shyok- Daulat Beg Oldi road won’t stop. Chinese camps set up for months at Point 15, and India reciprocated the action, thereby enhancing the tension. Troops and armours had been stacked up at Point 17. Though the troops pulled back from these points, the Pangong Tso issue won’t the resolved that easily.
India firmly stressed on restoring the status quo to pre-May 5 positions, according to sources, and said that it would deal with the situation with “strength and restraint”. This return to status quo would include PLA to pull back from “Finger 4” and demolish the bunkers and other fortifications established by it in the area.
Talks between India and China:
Though PLA’s movement came as an initial surprise, India reacted quickly in deploying troops and conducting negotiations. External affairs minute S Jaishankar, diplomats in Delhi and Beijing, army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane, NSA Ajit Doval, security agency chiefs were a part of the process.
The tough situation at Pangong Tso would expectedly require further high-level talks like the one between 14 Corps Commander Lt-General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting point on June 6, which led to a partial withdrawal of forces.
On June 10, India and China had reportedly pulled back their troops from three out of four confrontation sites along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh area–considering this as a confidence-building measure taken before another round of military talks to take place. However, the ground position on the leading face-off site on the northern bank of Pangong Tso remains unaltered.
The entire area from “Finger-4 to 8”, which India believes is a part of its territory, has been occupied by Chinese soldiers since early May to prevent all Indian patrols. Both sided have performed the gesture as they put in efforts to resolve their month-long tense border confrontation. The troops had engaged in a bitter clash in Pangong Tso on May 5-6.
As per sources, “limited military disengagement” has taken place at the Galwan Valley region (patrolling points 14 and 15) and Gogra-Hot Springs region over the past few days. Chinese troops have pulled back along with their heavy weaponry and armoured vehicles by about two to three kilometres (km), and the Indian side has reciprocated the action.
Major General level talks are scheduled on Wednesday between the two sides to resolve the standoff which would be succeeded by Lieutenant General, Brigadier, and Commanding Officers level talks later this week. However, until the troops move back to the peace-time locations from their in-depth areas along the LAC, the threat is not entirely subsided.
On June 12, another round of military talks carried between commanders of the Indian and the Chinese Armies. The focus of these talks held at the level of Major Generals was de-escalation in the Galwan area, PP 14, PP 15 and 17A. It was the fifth such discussion between military leaders of the two countries about the border issue, with several other meeting held before between Brigadier-level and Colonel-level commanders of both armies so far.
Earlier on Friday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held another review meeting with the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs. Another such meeting was held in the same week on June 8.
Earlier this year US President Donald Trump had offered to mediate between the two countries, which India refused stating that border issues would be resolved through established channels of communication between India and China, both diplomatic and military.