The Financial Express

India, China military talks to address border tensions fail

| Updated: October 12, 2021 13:16:53

The Reuters file photo shows a signboard at the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Reuters file photo shows a signboard at the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Talks between Indian and Chinese army commanders to disengage troops from key friction areas along their border have ended in a stalemate, according to a report published by Al Jazeera on Monday.

“The two sides failed to ease a 17-month standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes between them,” the report said citing statements of two countries.

The agency said, “The continuing standoff means the two nations will keep troops in the forward areas of Ladakh for a second consecutive winter in dangerously freezing temperatures.”

It also highlighted that both sides blamed each other for the failure to make progress.

According to the report, the Indian government on Monday claimed that they gave ‘constructive suggestions’ but the Chinese side was ‘not agreeable’ and ‘could not provide any forward-looking proposals’.

Citing a statement from a Chinese military spokesperson, the report said, “The Indian side sticks to unreasonable and unrealistic demands, adding difficulties to the negotiations”.

The Al Jazeera report said that the commanders from both armies met for the talks on Sunday, after a gap of two months, at Moldo on the Chinese side in the Ladakh area.

“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 (LAC),” it added.

The report mentioned that both India and China have withdrawn troops from some faceoff sites on the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso, a glacial lake at 14,000 ft (4,270 metres), Gogra and Galwan Valley since February.

“But they continue to maintain extra troops as part of a multi-tier deployment,” it said.

On Saturday, the report said, the Indian army chief expressed frustration over what he called the massive deployment of troops and weaponry as well as an equal amount of infrastructure development by the Chinese side.

However, the report also mentioned a statement of China’s Senior Colonel Long Shaohua of the Western Theatre Command that described China’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty as unwavering.

According to the report, the statement of China also conveyed a call to India for not misjudging the situation.

“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 report said.

It said that the LAC separates the Himalayan territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China, whose frontier runs for 3,500km (2,200 miles), fought a deadly war over the border in 1962.

The Chinese have been building build dozens of large weather-proof structures along the LAC in eastern Ladakh for their troops to stay in during the winter since the standoff began last year, the report said.

“New helipads, widening of airstrips, new barracks, new surface-to-air missile sites and radar locations have also been reported by Indian media,” it added.

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