Ladakh standoff: Next India-China commanders' meet will be crucial

The Asian Age.  | Pawan Bali

India, Politics

All the diplomatic dialogue will mean nothing unless the Chinese military is ready to disengage on the ground

An IAF aircraft flies in the Ladakh region amid India-China border tensions. — PTI photo

The next corps commanders’ meeting between Indian and China, which is expected later this week, is crucial as it will show whether the People’s Liberation Army is ready to work on ground towards disengagement and de-escalation after the foreign ministers of the two countries agreed on a five-point agenda during their meeting last week in Moscow.

Sources said all the diplomatic dialogue will mean nothing unless the Chinese military is ready to disengage on the ground. India wants that the status quo ante of April 2020 should be restored, and the Chinese should withdraw their 50,000-odd troops which they have pushed near the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.    

“The corps commanders may meet this week. The dates have not been confirmed yet,” the sources said.

“After drawing up the five-point understanding with all its diplomatic rhetoric, the ball is back in the military field. Wonder how the ‘disengagement’ and ‘proper distancing’ is possible without a common reference point or mutually known LAC alignment. India must insist on the delineation of the LAC,” former Army Chief Gen. Ved Prakash Malik tweeted on Saturday. “The Chinese use negotiations to gain time, strengthen positions on the ground and keep the adversary guessing about their real intentions. Troops need to remain fully alert, stand firm and not be lulled by diplomatic talks,” he added.

This will be the sixth round of corps commanders’ talks between the two sides. A major general-level meeting was also held on August 8 at Daulat Beg Oldie to discuss disengagement at the strategic Depsang plains.

The last and fifth corps commanders’ meeting was held on August 2 at Moldo, where the Chinese had refused to go back from the Finger area in Pangong Tso. The Chinese side also did not meet its earlier commitment to disengage in other standoff points, including Gogra Post. There was a feeling that the Chinese side was using the corps commanders meeting to buy time to strengthen their positions in the transgression areas.

However, the situation changed after August 29-30 when India occupied some strategic peaks in the Chushul secto,r which overlook the Chinese garrison in Moldo. In the Finger area in Pangong Tso, Indian soldiers are now at several points which are higher than the Chinese positions on the ridgelines of Finger 4. The domination at key points by the Indian Army has put added pressure on the Chinese Army.