India, China agreed on peaceful way out of border deadlock in Ladakh


In a statement 24 hours after military-level talks, MEA says the situation will be resolved as per past bilateral accords

New Delhi: What came of the talks between Indian and Chinese military commanders on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh on Saturday? India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) put out a statement almost 24 hours later on Sunday, stating that the two sides agreed to peacefully resolve the current border issue in eastern Ladakh in accordance with bilateral pacts as well as the agreement reached between the leadership of the two countries.

In other words, the parleys held between Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping in recent meetings, including a summit at Mamallapuram last year will have a bearing on the border issue.

The Indian Army’s 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh and the People’s Liberation Army’s South Xinjiang Military Region commander Maj Gen Liu Lin met at the Border Personnel Meeting Point in Maldo on the Chinese side of the LAC in the Chushul sector of Ladakh. The talks lasted more than five hours.

After the meeting, Indian Army officials briefed Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Y K Joshi and Army Chief Gen MM Naravane on the outcome. The army also briefed national security adviser Ajit  Doval, chief of defence services Gen Bipin Rawat and the Ministry of External Affairs. A detailed briefing was also given to the PMO.

In its statement on Sunday, the MEA said, “Both sides noted that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and agreed that an early resolution would contribute to the further development of the relationship.

“Accordingly, the two sides will continue the military and diplomatic engagements to resolve the situation and to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” it said.

During the talks, India is reported to have asked China to revert to the status quo of April 2020 at the LAC in the Ladakh sector. The India side sought that China should act on the various agreements signed by the two sides to bring down the tensions at the LAC.

India asked China to reduce the build-up of its troops at the LAC and revert back to the status quo of April in Pangong Tso, Hot Springs and Galwan Valley. The Chinese side objected to road construction at the LAC which has increased the Indian Army’s capability to mobilise troops much faster in the mountainous terrain of Ladakh. However, India pointed out that all construction activity was going on well within Indian territory.

On Saturday afternoon, the Indian Army issued a statement which said that Indian and Chinese officials continue to remain engaged through the established military and diplomatic channels to address the current situation in the India-China border areas. “At this stage, therefore, any speculative and unsubstantiated reporting about these engagements would not be helpful and the media is advised to refrain from such reporting,” said the statement. 

Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned media said on Saturday that India should immediately stop provocative acts along the border and respect China’s bottom line stance on the common border, “otherwise deadlock will not be truly resolved.”

Global Times in a report said that Chinese observers predict that the military of the two countries, after Saturday’s high-level meeting, will cease operations “to certain extent,” but the border tension may continue, mainly due to India’s tendency of “playing petty tricks on the border.”

In a separate editorial, Global Times said that India should not be instigated by US as China will not give up any inch of territory and China will not be at a disadvantage in any China-India military operations along the border area.

During the meeting India raised the issue of Pangong Tso where China has brought additional troops and pitched tents at around finger 4 to prevent Indian troops from patrolling till finger 8 area in an attempt to change the status quo.  It was at Pangong Tso lake, where the two sides were involved in a brutal clash on the intervening night of May 5th and May 6th.

In Galwan Valley, Chinese have brought their troops in Indian territory which was never disputed. PLA is unhappy with the 255 kilometer Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road which connects to base of the Karakoram pass. Chinese presence at Galwan is a threat to DS-DBO road as they can cut off this crucial road. There have already been more than 10 rounds of talks held already between the two sides at  different level from Commanding Officers, Brigade to Major General level to try to resolve the issue.

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