India and China will this morning hold high-level talks, amid the border stand-off between the militaries of the two countries near eastern Ladakh. The talks have been requested by India and will be held in the Indian Border Point Meeting hut in Chushul-Moldo.
India will be led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, Commander of 14 Corps, while the Chinese side will be headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military District. Multiple local-level talks by regional military commanders have not made any headway so far.
News agency PTI quoted official sources as saying the Indian delegation will press for restoration of the previously existing state of affairs in all areas of eastern Ladakh, oppose the huge build-up of Chinese troops in the region and ask Beijing not to oppose infrastructure development by India on its side of the de-facto border.
India says the Chinese military is hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the Line of Actual Control or LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim, and strongly refutes Beijing’s contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.
The stand-off in eastern Ladakh is in at least five key areas where India and China have had traditional differences on the perception of the LAC in the region. The present tension between the two sides came into sharp focus when reports of skirmishes between the soldiers of both sides were reported in the Pangong Lake region on May 5 and May 6.
Since the clashes, there have been multiple reports of intrusions by Chinese infantry soldiers in areas which include Demchok to the South, the Fingers region on the Eastern banks of the high-altitude Pangong Lake, the Galwan River basin and more recently the Gogra post. There have also been some reports of increased Chinese activity to the North, towards the Daulat Beg Oldie area.
The likely trigger for the face-off was China’s stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake and the construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
The road in the Finger area in Pangong Tso is considered crucial for India to carry out patrol. India has already decided not to stall any border infrastructure projects in eastern Ladakh in view of Chinese protests.
This stand-off is the most serious since India and China, who fought a brief war in 1962, were locked in a similar faceoff in Doklam, in the eastern Himalayas, that lasted nearly three months in 2017.
A day before the military-level meeting, on Friday, India and China vowed not to allow their “differences” become disputes and agreed to handle them through peaceful dialogue while respecting each other’s sensitivities and concerns. The positive approach came at a diplomatic dialogue through video conference between Naveen Srivastava, joint secretary (East Asia) in the external affairs ministry, and Wu Jianghao, director general in China’s foreign ministry.
The border tension between India and China was among a range of important issues that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump discussed in a phone call on Tuesday, a week after Mr Trump claimed that he offered to mediate between India and China.
However, top government sources had contradicted the claim, asserting that there had been no recent interaction between the two leaders. China also rejected Mr Trump’s offer, citing the two neighbours are capable of properly resolving the issues through dialogue and consultation.
The India-China boundary covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the areas along the LAC.
With inputs from PTI