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India-China in further, urgent border talks amid concern that the former had gained more thus far

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(TibetanReview.net, Aug22’23) – India and China appear to be seeking something of an urgent breakthrough in the more than three-year-old standoff along their Ladakh and occupied Tibet border ahead of a possible meeting between the heads of the two governments at the BRICS Summit to be held Aug 22-24 in Johannesburg, South Africa. However, discussions are taking place amid concern that China had gained more than India in the limited deals reached in the talks held thus far.

Following the Corps Commander-level talks held on Aug 13 and 14 at the Chushul Moldo border meeting point, Major General-level talks have been going on since Aug 18.

The “marathon discussions” are being held to resolve the long-standing border issue in two areas – the Demchok and Depsang plains, reported the republicworld.com Aug 21.

A breakthrough if achieved would create good vibe for a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping.

In their Corps Commander-level talks, India and China agreed to resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in an expeditious manner besides maintaining peace and tranquillity in the border areas, according to their joint statement issued Aug 15.

Following diplomatic and military talks held thus far in the aftermath of the Galwan Valley clashes of early 2020, the two countries have disengaged in several areas like north and south banks of the Pangong Lake and in the Gogra area.

The confidence-building measures (CBMs) currently under discussion are for the major face-off sites at Depsang and the Charding Ninglung Nallah (CNN) track junction in Demchok, the buffer zones established earlier after troop disengagements, and the overall LAC in the region, reported the timesofindia.com Aug 21.

The CBMs range from not increasing troop levels along the LAC, avoiding any airspace violations by drones and defining the ‘limits’ of patrolling and exchanging prior information about each other’s patrols to strictly adhering to border protocols and maintaining the sanctity of the buffer zones where troop disengagement has taken place, the report said.

There is as yet no official word on the Major General-level talks, which have raised speculation whether there is a push to show “tangible forward movement” in defusing the military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, in the run-up to the G20 summit, the report said.

* * *

On the ongoing Major General-level talks, India and China have said they were trying to resolve the border stand-off in a “forward-looking manner” after the 19th round of Corps Commander-level talks. But the relatively positive tone of the statement has more to do with the interests of both sides in letting their leaders hold the upcoming BRICS and G20 meetings, said and opinion piece on theprint.in Aug 21.

The opinion piece went on: “for Beijing, BRICS and G20 are important forums where Xi would like his civilizational and geopolitical ideas to reverberate. A conciliatory joint statement with India was a small prize for Beijing. But it’s hard to tell what New Delhi received in return besides some reassurance of confidence-building measures. If we are taking past stand-offs as a playbook to resolve the current one, we are making a blunder.”

With the joint statement after the Corps Commander-level talks, Beijing may have created room for Xi’s participation in the BRICS and G20 meetings but let’s not forget that PLA hasn’t moved an inch back, the piece said.

The discussions about confidence-building between the two forces at the Major General-level talks must be followed by disengagement in the two areas before the two sides can discuss the next steps.

New Delhi must realise that seeking a short-term reprieve through talks will not bring long-term peace with China. Not when Beijing is training the next generation of soldiers to face India, the piece warned.

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