NEW DELHI/BEIJING: While China’s ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece vowed not to give up even “an inch” of its territory, Indian officials touted “good signs” on Sunday after the first round of high-level military talks between New Delhi and its regional rival Beijing to resolve the month-long border standoff ended without an official statement from either side.
Citing sources, the Times of India revealed the Indian officials were satisfied with the “positive trajectory” in a bid to resolve the confrontation. The two countries are “taking incremental steps to resolve the disputes at four points in eastern Ladakh,” Hindustan Times reported, quoting officials.
According to the Hindustan Times, the seven-hour-long meeting, held at the Border Personnel Meeting Point in Maldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, was the first meeting at the level of lieutenant generals of the two armies. From the Indian side, Lt Gen Harinder Singh, the Leh-based 14 Corps Commander, led a 10-member team. While the Chinese delegation was led by South Xinjiang Military District Commander Major General Liu Lin.
There was, however, no official word on the result of the meeting.
A spokesperson for the Indian army confirmed that New Delhi and Beijing continue to remain engaged through the established military and diplomatic channels to address the current situation in the border areas.
Saturday’s meeting took place after 12 rounds of talks between local commanders of the two armies and three rounds of discussions at the level of major general-rank officials could not produce any tangible outcome, Eurasiantimes reported, citing sources.
Sources quoted by Times of India claim that the meeting was “positive” and could ultimately lead to the restoration of status quo in the valley, with both India and China removing soldiers and heavy military equipment from Pangong Tso, Gogra-Hot Springs area and Galwan Valley region in a phased manner.
Prior to the meeting, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had issued a statement stressing diplomatic channels as a way to peacefully resolve the border tension in the Ladakh region. Senior officials of the government echoed similar voices as they interacted with the Chinese counterparts via video call.
Multiple reports emerging prior the meeting suggested that the Indian delegation will press for the restoration of status quo ante in Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and Gogra in eastern Ladakh, oppose huge build-up of Chinese troops in the region and ask China not to resist the development of infrastructure by India on its side of the de-facto border.
According to the Global Times, China’s ruling party’s mouthpiece, analysts in Beijing agreed on resolving the matter peacefully. While they said that they want “good-neighbourly relations” with New Delhi, they also said that Beijing will not give up “an inch” of territory.
China also warned India to not be “fooled” by Washington as the US is only trying to “serve its own strategic interest”.
“Washington is keen on placing a wedge between countries and drawing countries to its own side. But this serves the US’ strategic pressure on China, instead of other countries’ geopolitical interests,” it said.
India and China have been engaged in a standoff in Ladakh for a month now. The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in North Sikkim on May 9.
Since then, both countries have been involved in a massive troop build-up and have ramped up construction of military infrastructure in the area. Arms and ammunition also have been brought in with the air force of both countries patrolling the border. To many, the standoff is reminiscent of Doklam in 2017.