A critical meeting on Saturday between Indian and Chinese military officials, led by lieutenant generals from both armies, ended up “inconclusively” as both sides made attempts to resolve a weeks-long row along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, officials said.
This is in line with what Hindustan Times reported on Saturday that it may not be possible to achieve an immediate breakthrough to the Ladakh standoff.
The general officer commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, Lt Gen Harinder Singh, met his Chinese counterpart, Major General Liu Lin, who is the commander of South Xinjiang Military Region of Chinese PLA. This came 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 was perhaps the first time that lieutenant general-equivalents from both sides met 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.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh 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, has been in Leh for a security review of the sensitive sector where Indian and Chinese soldiers are eyeball-to-eyeball at four locations along 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 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.
Former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd) said, “What has happened is that face-offs used to take place first and then the build-up. Now, they got troops who were training and this led to a build-up and then face-offs. The intention has changed. Thus, this de-escalation will not take place so easily. There will be certain amount of withdrawals in due course, but they will not completely back up from the transgressed line without taking concessions….”
This is not going to be solved anytime soon, Jaswal said, adding could be longer than the 73-day Doklam. “It will require military and diplomatic maneuvering.”