Leaders of the Chinese and Indian armies held a meeting yesterday in a bid to ease their months-long dispute on the China-India border. The meeting was held at Moldo on the Chinese side of the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The Indian army leader is expected to convey a message from its government that New Delhi expects Beijing to initiate a withdrawal plan, since it was responsible for starting the stand-off.
The meeting of the army leaders follows a similar meeting held a week earlier in Moscow attended by the foreign ministers of both countries. China was represented by its foreign minister Wang Yi, and India despatched its foreign minister, S. Jaishanker. The meeting concluded with a five-point consensus being reached to ‘quickly disengage troops and ease tensions’ along the nearly 3,490km LAC that separates both countries.
Former Indian army director general of military operations, retired Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia shared his opinion on the meeting being held, and said, “Military officials from both sides will have to come and work out how this political consensus translates into ground-level action. So, these meetings are intended to thrash out actual modalities and details of the disengagement, like where to disengage, when and by how much.”
Political analysists are of the opinion Monday’s meeting was very crucial to discuss the fate of the nearly 5-month border stand-off between both nations.
One crucial reason for the rush to end the stand-off, is the approaching winter season by the end of September. The disputed high-altitude Himalayan mountain region, Ladakh, where soldiers repeatedly have stand-offs, faces extreme winters where temperatures can nosedive to as low as -60°C.
Not resolving the dispute in time will see thousands of battling troops from both sides left exposed to the extreme winter weather.
India’s delegation in Monday’s meeting was led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and diplomat Naveen Srivastava who is joint-secretary in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, making it a simultaneous military-diplomatic meeting.
Monday’s meeting is the first held since the 10-hour stand-off at Moldo in Aug 2nd. There have subsequently been at least 2 further clashes, and accusations of warning shots being fired by both sides which breaks an agreement that disallows the use of firearms within a 2km distance of the LAC.
According to Gateway House, an Indian think tank located in Mumbai, India wants to use its military-diplomatic team as a channel to send a strong signal to China.
Gateway House’s international security studies fellow, Sameer Patil, was quoted saying “It gives out a message to the Chinese that India is still committed to finding a diplomatic resolution to the dispute. India wants to ensure that it is not seen giving up on diplomacy, in favour of solely military-level talks.”
The stand-off started in May when thousands of Chinese and Indian soldiers were stationed at Ladakh along the LAC. The deadliest stand-off took place on June 15th where both sides were engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The clash ended in at least 20 lives lost on the Indian side and the loss of an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers.
The Indian delegation is tasked to convey their government’s stand of “status quo ante” which means that the Chinese government must station their troops in the location they were in back in April, which is before the stand-off began.
New Delhi is working on the usage of the “first in, first out” policy for the disengagement by the Chinese side, since China initiated the stand-off.
While the Indian armed forces rush to provide fuel, oil, food and other essential winter supplies to their troops in Ladakh; Global Times, the Chinese state-run tabloid, reported on Sunday that all PLA soldiers along the LAC were already equipped with “hi-tech” outfits to battle in the forthcoming extreme winter conditions.
22nd September 2020 20:00