Lt Gen-level talks between India, China significant: Top expert

boy playing cricket near pangong tso lake
Children playing cricket by Pangong Lake, near the India-China border in Ladakh, in July 2011. 

A meeting on June 6 between Indian and Chinese military officials, led by lieutenant generals from both armies, will be a significant step towards resolving the weeks-long row along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), said National Security Advisory Board member Lt Gen (retired) SL Narasimhan.

The general officer commanding of Leh-based 16 Corps, Lt Gen Harinder Singh, is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart almost a month after tensions between India and China began building up along the disputed border. The row has already taken bilateral ties to a new low.

This is perhaps the first time that lieutenant generals from both sides will meet in a sensitive sector to defuse border tensions – the highest talks between India and China at the tactical level have so far usually involved major generals.

Narasimhan, a top China expert, said modalities for resolving the border situation, with a focus on concerns brought to the table by both sides, could figure in the agenda for the upcoming meeting.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh had on Tuesday announced that a meeting between senior Indian and Chinese military officers will be held on June 6 to discuss the border situation.

The Northern Army commander, Lt Gen YK Joshi, was in Leh on Wednesday for a security review of the sensitive sector, where Indian and Chinese soldiers are eyeball-to-eyeball at four locations along the LAC.

Several rounds of talks between local military commanders, including three rounds of discussions between major generals, have failed to break the impasse that began with a violent confrontation between rival patrols near Pangong lake four weeks ago.

Around 250 soldiers from the two sides clashed near Pangong lake on the night of May 5-6, and the scuffle left scores of troops injured. While an immediate flare-up was avoided as both armies stuck to protocols to resolve the immediate situation, tensions swiftly spread to other pockets along the LAC.

China has marshalled close to 5,000 soldiers and deployed tanks and artillery on its side of the disputed border in Ladakh sector, where India has also sent military reinforcements and matched the neighbour’s military moves, as reported by Hindustan Times on May 26.

Chinese state-run media has described the latest tensions as the worst since the 2017 Doklam standoff that lasted 73 days.

HT was the first to report on May 10 about tensions flaring up between India and China in north Sikkim, where 150 soldiers were involved in a tense standoff a day earlier. Four Indian and seven Chinese soldiers were injured at Naku La during the confrontation.

The external affairs ministry has said that Chinese troops have hindered patrols by Indian forces on the Indian side of the LAC and that contacts have been established through military and diplomatic channels to address the situation.

Source: Hindustan Times