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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/14/20

China, India to hold Lt Gen-level talks as China declines to exchange maps of Western border sector

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The Indian Army and the Chinese PLA are expected to hold another round of high-level talks on Tuesday or Wednesday to thrash out modalities for the next phase of de-escalation as part of complete disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh, Indian military sources were quoted saying by the Press Trust of India.

There was no change in the ground position, and the next phase of the de-escalation process will kick off only after the fourth round of talks between corps commanders of the two sides, the sources said.

The high level military talks will be held amid reports that China has so far refused to exchange maps in the Western sector of India-China border.

Even after 22 rounds of talks on the boundary question, it has shown no inclination to exchange maps or clarify the Line of Actual Control LAC), having exchanged maps for only the central sector, according to One India.

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has already completed pulling back troops from Gogra, Hot Springs and Galwan Valley and significantly thinned down its presence in the ridgeline of Finger Four in the Pangong Tso area in the last one week as demanded by India, the PTI said.

India has been insisting that China must withdraw its forces from areas between Finger Four and Eight, according to the PTI.

The Indian military sources said the fourth round of Lt General-level talks are likely to be held on either Tuesday or Wednesday and the main focus of it would be to finalize modalities for withdrawal of troops from rear bases of the two militaries.

The formal process of disengagement of troops began on July 6, a day after a nearly two-hour telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The two militaries have held three rounds of Lt General-level talks so far and the last one took place on June 30 during which both sides agreed on an "expeditious, phased and step wise" de-escalation as a "priority" to end the standoff.

The Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for over eight weeks since May 5. The tension escalated manifold after a violent clash in Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

Tensions had escalated in eastern Ladakh around two months back 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.

Narendra Modi won't let fire and fury ignite a war

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning News (SCMN) quoted observers as saying Monday Modi has taken an aggressive stand in the bloody territorial dispute but he will not risk an all-out conflict.

Eduardo Baptista of SCMN wrote when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to troops near the disputed border after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a border skirmish with Chinese troops, in a thinly veiled swipe at Beijing, Modi said "the age of expansionism" was over and the weak could not bring about peace.

However, analysts say Modi's aggressive tone fits the public mood and the policies of his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has given a freer rein to the army since taking power in 2014, but he will not risk an all out conflict with his larger and better armed neighbor.

Until the BJP's rise to power six years ago, Indian politics had been dominated by the centre-left Indian National Congress party. The party stressed socio-economic development and a policy of engagement with China after 1947.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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