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Latest Sino-India Ladakh border dialogue positive, though deadlock continues

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec24’22) – The 17th round of India-China military dialogue on the ongoing border dispute in Ladakh held on Dec 20 has yielded no results as both sides stuck to their positions on the issue of restoring patrolling rights to the Indian Army in Depsang Plains and Charding Ninglung Nullah (CNN) junction in Demchok, reported the hindustantimes.com Dec 23. The dialogue took place just days after troops from the two sides fought each other without the use of firearms in the far east Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh’s border area of Tawang on Dec 9.

The Chinese aggression in Tawang was state to have been taken up separately by the local commanders on Dec 11.

The two sides issued a joint statement that suggested that the talks went well, noted the outlookindia.com Dec 22. It mentioned the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector.

The fact that India and China issued a joint statement is an indication that the talks went well. When there are serious differences, separate statements are issued by each country, the report said.

“They had a frank and in-depth discussion, keeping in line with the guidance provided by the state leaders to work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest which would help in the restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector and enable progress in bilateral relations,” the statement said.

“The two sides agreed to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector. The two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” the statement further said.

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However, the hindustantimes.com report said that while the Chinese commander talked about normalization of the East Ladakh LAC, the Indian side talked about de-escalation of troops, tanks, artillery, and rocket systems that both sides had deployed post May 2020 belligerence by the PLA troops on Galwan, Gogra-Hot Springs, and north banks of Pangong Tso.

The report noted that while there has been disengagement on all these points, the East Ladakh LAC has remained packed with troops on both sides for three consecutive winters and that the possibility of a local flare up and subsequent horizontal escalation could not be ruled out.

During the Dec 20 dialogue, the Indian Corps Commander and the Chinese South Xinjiang Military Region Commander decided to maintain security and stability in the western sector by remaining in close touch. However, the PLA has refused to budge on resolving the Depsang Plains and the CNN track junction issue. Both the issues pre-date the Pangong Tso transgressions of 2020, with the PLA blocking the Indian Army rights to patrol its points 10 to 13 in Depsang Bulge and in the CNN track junction area, south of Demchok, the report said.

It is understood that the Indian side stuck to restoration of patrolling rights in Depsang Plains and CNN area at the border meeting while the Chinese side stuck to its position by claiming that the situation was normal. In short, the two sides talked past each other at the meeting with each reiterating its version for future peace and tranquility on the East Ladakh LAC, the report said.

As regards the PLA transgression at Yangtze plateau in the Tawang sector on Dec 9, 2022, there was no discussion as the issue had been addressed by the local commander on Dec 11 in accordance with the established mechanisms and the matter was also pursued through diplomatic channels.

The PLA has been transgressing into the Yangtze area post-2008 Tibet uprising while the contest dates to the 1986-87 Sumdorong Chu incident, the report noted.

India has made it clear since the Jun 2020 Galwan Valley military confrontation that it would not be business as usual with China, whereas China has insisted that business and other exchanges should continue while the dispute in Ladakh could be dealt with separately by field commanders and diplomats. 

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