At the end of the 12th round of Corps Commander Level Talks on Saturday, India and China have both agreed to resolve the pending issues between the two countries in an expeditious manner and in accordance with the agreements already in place. There was no agreement on the disengagement from the pending friction points in the Gogra and Hot Springs area.
Official Statement on Monday
On Monday (Aug 2, 2021) late evening, the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a formal statement about the talks which had taken place at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side.
According to the statement, “The meeting between the two countries was held close to the heels of the recent meeting of External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) meeting in Dushanbe on July 14, 2021. The two countries also had the 22nd meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) on June 25, 2021.
Terming the talks as constructive, the official statement has said that the two sides had “a candid and in-depth exchange of views on resolution of remaining areas which are related to disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of India-China border areas”.
The situation so far …
Forward movement was expected during the talks on Saturday. The talks as has been reported started at 10.30 am and ended the same day at 7.30 pm. This was the shortest Corps Commander-level meeting since May last year.
Unfortunately there was no agreement on a `graduated disengagement’ in Gogra and Hot Springs, two of the friction points in Eastern Ladakh.
Indian and Chinese armies have already reaffirmed the agreement not to build up more troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) or to start any activity which could lead to further escalation between the two sides.
What did India raise during the Saturday meeting?
The Indian side led by 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen PGK Menon, pushed for disengagement before de-escalation. The talks took place on the eve of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Day.
Though nothing was concluded during the meeting on Saturday, sources have indicated that Chinese side was more receptive to India’s views this time as compared to the previous round of talks.
Why Disengagement before De-escalation?
Because China will gain from de-escalation first, as it has the infrastructure to move its troops faster back to the frontline as compared to India, as the terrain on this side is very difficult.
As Financial Express Online has reported earlier, from Indian side the issue of Depsang Plains was raised as well as the restoration of patrolling rights. The Chinese side has been blocking the Indian soldiers from Patrolling Points (PP) 10, 11, 11A, 12 and 13.
No disengagement in Hot Springs and Gogra
There was an expectation of a forward movement in the Gogra and Hot Springs area, soon after the disengagement in southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso earlier this year.
Why? Because the Chinese side had already agreed to do so on two earlier instances.
As has been reported earlier, the first time the Chinese had agreed to disengage was in June 2020. Chinese side did not honour this agreement and on June 15, Galwan Valley Clash had taken place and Indian soldiers were killed.
Soon thereafter, there was another agreement under which the Chinese were to withdraw their troops from the Hot Springs and Gogra areas. However, for the second time the Chinese did not do as agreed.
According to satellite images of the Hot Springs area, the tents that the Chinese side had initially set up in the Indian Territory last May, have now been converted into semi-permanent structures.