India and China military top brass began talks on Saturday to resolve the stand-off situation in Eastern Ladakh region and de-escalation of forces across the Line of Actual Control. The meeting is being held in Moldo on the Chinese side opposite Chushul.
Indian military delegation is headed by the commander of Leh-based 14 Corp Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and the Chinese are led by Major General Liu Lin, Commander of South Xinjiang Military Region.
Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece on Saturday warned India “not to be fooled” by the United States, which was only concerned in serving its own strategic interest to maintain pressure on China, and did not care about “other countries geopolitical interests”.
The Global Times tabloid in a scathing piece said that China will not give up “any inch of territory”. It also warned that if India misjudges and “nibbles away at China’s territory,” then China will take strong countermeasures.
“We believe India knows very well that China will not be at a disadvantage in any China-India military operations along the border area,” the editorial published on Friday in the Chinese government mouthpiece said.
“India should not be fooled by the US,” it said, adding that the US supports India every time China and India have conflicts to encourage New Delhi’s confrontation against Beijing and to hype new border disputes.
“China does not want to fall foul of India. Good-neighbourly relations have been China’s basic national policy over the past decades, and China firmly adheres to a peaceful resolution of border disputes. We have no reason to make India our enemy.”
“The US and its allies have established various contact mechanisms with India, making India falsely believe that it is well-supported. But for major powers like China and India, external factors will not substantially affect their relations,” it added.
Both countries are engaging in dialogue to resolve the stand-off in Eastern Ladakh region, particularly at north bank of Pangong Tso lake where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has attempted to change status quo.
They attempted to change the status quo by putting up shelters and setting up a camp in areas that were under Indian control so far. Before this, talks between major general-rank officers between two countries took place on June 2 that remained “inconclusive”.
The Chinese troops in large numbers have been camping at Finger 4 area of the Pangong Lake. India also matched these numbers in deployment there. The Pangong Lake is divided into 8 fingers. The mountainous spurs jutting out into the lake are referred to as fingers. So far India has been controlling fingers 1 to 4 and China controls the area between 5 and 8.
There is an Indian post near Finger 4. However, India claims the entire stretch till Finger 8. The area between Finger 4 and 8 has been a matter of dispute and has often witnessed confrontations. The clash took place at Pangong Lake on May 5, leaving several from both sides wounded.
Sources further pointed out that the standoff was not a spontaneous reaction to India’s road construction in Ladakh. Unusual activities were first noticed in few weeks before that clash.
The current standoff in Ladakh is not the usual patrolling faceoff but part of the new combative strategy that was rolled out by China after Doklam.
In 2017, there was a 73-day stand-off between India and China. The standoff was at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction Doklam. China’s road construction in Bhutanese territory was seen as an attempt to change the status quo by India and finally the road work had to be stopped.
The two sides have held close to a dozen rounds of talks since the first week of May when the Chinese sent over 5,000 troops to the LAC.
On Friday, officials of India and China interacted through video-conferencing with the two sides agreeing that they should handle “their differences through peaceful discussion” while respecting each other’s sensitivities and concerns and not allowing them to become disputes in accordance with the guidance provided by the leadership.
In the last few days, there has not been any major movement of the People’s Liberation Army troops at the multiple sites where it has stationed itself along the LAC opposite Indian forces. India and China have been locked in a dispute over the heavy military build-up by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) where they have brought in more than 5,000 troops along with the Eastern Ladakh sector.
The Chinese Army’s intent to carry out deeper incursions was checked by the Indian security forces by quick deployment. The Chinese have also brought in heavy vehicles with artillery guns and infantry combat vehicles in their rear positions close to the Indian territory.