Indian and Chinese army commanders discuss border tensions

No progress reported from talks on Sunday to ease a stand-off in the mountainous Ladakh region

Indian and Chinese army commanders have discussed steps to disengage troops from key areas of friction along their disputed border.

They aim to ease a 17-month stand-off that has sometimes led to deadly clashes.

The commanders met on Sunday after a gap of two months at Moldo on the Chinese side in the Ladakh area, said Col Sudhir Chamoli, an Indian army spokesman.

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The Indian side sticks to unreasonable and unrealistic demands, adding difficulties to the negotiations
Chinese Senior Col Long Shaohua

A written statement on Monday from a Chinese military spokesman said “the Indian side sticks to unreasonable and unrealistic demands, adding difficulties to the negotiations".

Since February, both India and China have withdrawn troops from some sites on the northern and southern banks of the Pangong Tso lake, Gogra and the Galwan Valley, but they continue to station soldiers there.

Additional troops have also been sent to Demchok and Depsang Plains, Indian media reports say.

The talks came amid frustration expressed by the Indian army chief at what he called the huge deployment of troops and weaponry by the Chinese side.

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It is a matter of concern that the large-scale build-up has occurred and continues to be in place
Gen M M Naravane, Indian army chief

“Yes, it is a matter of concern that the large-scale build-up has occurred and continues to be in place, and to sustain that kind of a build-up, there has been an equal amount of infrastructure development on the Chinese side,” Gen M M Naravane said on Saturday.

“So, it means that they [China] are there to stay. We are keeping a close watch on all these developments, but if they are there to stay, we are there to stay too,” he said.

The Chinese statement from Senior Col Long Shaohua of the Western Theatre Command said that “China’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty is unwavering, and China hopes India will not misjudge the situation”.

Temperatures in the forward areas in Ladakh drop to minus 30°C around January. Troops from both sides used to retreat to their traditional summer holding positions at around this time, but they remain close to the disputed border since the start of a face-off in May last year.

Both countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along the de facto border called the Line of Actual Control. Last year, 20 Indian troops were killed in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists along the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.

The Line of Actual Control separates Chinese and Indian-held territories from Ladakh to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a deadly war over the border in 1962.

Since the stand-off began last year, China has been building build dozens of large weatherproof structures along the LAC in eastern Ladakh for its troops to stay in during the winter. New helipads, widening of airstrips, new barracks, new surface-to-air missile sites and radar locations have also been reported by Indian media.

Updated: October 11th 2021, 7:17 AM
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