India, China stand-off to continue through winter after no breakthrough at talks

India, China stand-off to continue through winter after no breakthroughat talks

New Delhi: The stand-off between India and China in eastern Ladakh, which has entered its seventh month, is set to continue through winter with the latest round of Corps Commander level talks Friday ending without a breakthrough, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said India put forward its point — it will not agree to any one-sided disengagement proposal — very clearly in the 10-hour meet.

The talks began at the Chushul-Moldo meeting point in eastern Ladakh at 9.30 am and ended at about 7 pm. This was the first round of talks led by the new 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen P.G.K. Menon. The latest talks took place nearly a month after the previous round.

All eyes are now on the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping will come face to face, albeit virtually.

It is believed that while Corps Commanders will continue to meet, a final solution will only come after both Modi and Xi reach an understanding.

Modi and Xi will also be meeting virtually between 13 and 15 November at the ASEAN Summit. They are also expected to come face-to-face at two other summits — BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit, chaired by Russia, on 17 November, and G-20, chaired by Saudi Arabia, on 21-22 November.

Logistics issue

On Friday, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat presented a clear line on India’s stand as he said that status quo will have to be restored and India won’t accept any shifting of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Sources said both sides have focused on building infrastructure to house the soldiers who have been moved to the frontlines for the first time in years.

Logistics is a huge issue as India and China have dropped over 50,000 additional troops into the area besides associated equipment. Many of the soldiers are posted at forward locations in eastern Ladakh, where temperatures drop to -30 degree Celsius.

ThePrint was the first to report in June that the stand-off could easily continue until winter.

The Army has started drawing up a summer strategy for Ladakh, and is looking at greater permanent deployment of troops in the area with no immediate resolution in sight.

This could possibly translate into either another official Division, besides the already deployed 3 Div, to man the area, or additional Battalions under the current set up.

China has proposed a slew of measures to ease tensions along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, which includes withdrawing tanks and artillery guns from the forward areas back to their peacetime locations, Indian troops vacating strategic heights in the southern banks of Pangong Tso and making Finger 4 in the northern banks a no-go area.

However, India has rejected all suggestions since the proposals are meant to give Chinese a tactical advantage over Indian forces.