India and China will hold the 14th round of top-level military talks on January 12, in yet another bid to defuse the 20-month-long confrontation in eastern Ladakh that has seen them keep around 50,000 troops each forward deployed for the second consecutive winter.
The talks will be led by the Indian14 Corps commander Lt-General Anindya Sengupta and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Yang Lin.
India has been insisting on comprehensive disengagement and de-escalation of the situation in eastern Ladakh, while China has been reluctant to discuss Depsang and Demchok, maintaining that they are not a part of the current stand-off, according to Indian officials.
Indian Sources, however, said any resolution of
the much more tougher stand-offs at the Charding Ninglung Nallah (CNN) track
junction at Demchok and the strategically-located Depsang Plains, followed by
overall de-escalation along the frontier in eastern Ladakh, is not on the
horizon as of now.
The Depsang Bulge, in particular, remains a major hotspot. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been actively blocking Indian soldiers, around 18-km inside what India considers its own territory, from even going to their traditional PPs-10, 11, 12, 12A and 13 in Depsang since April-May 2020.
After the multiple PLA incursions into eastern Ladakh in May 2020, troop disengagement subsequently took place in the Pangong Tso-Kailash Range region in February last year and then at PP-17A near the crucial Gogra post in early-August.
But the overall deadlock still persists, with China continuing to consolidate its military positions and border infrastructure along the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control, upgrade its air bases facing India and also establish "dual-use" villages in disputed territories.
The latest instance of this is the PLA's ongoing construction of a bridge across the Pangong Tso in the Khurnak Fort area for better connectivity of its troops between the north and south banks of the brackish lake, as was reported by Times of India earlier this week.
India on Thursday had slammed China for building the bridge in the area illegally occupied by it since 1958, renaming 15 locations in Arunachal Pradesh and the "inappropriate" substance, tone and tenor of the letter written by one of its diplomats to Indian MPs over their presence at a Tibet-related event in Delhi.
Pravin Sawhney, a prominent Indian defense analyst is not optimistic about the 14th round of military talks. Referring to the recent release of a video by China showing hoisting of Chinese flag in the disputed Galwan Valley. What does it mean? Sawhney said that the Chinese are telling us that the land where we are after April 2020. We will not relinquish that land which is ours.
Sawhney pointed out that there are reports that China has occupied 1000 sq km area where Indian soldiers were patrolling since 1993 in Ladakh.
He went on to say that in 2022 China will put extra ordinary pressure on the Modi government on to agree to the terms and implement the joint statement singed in Moscow in September 2020 by the Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. The two ministers agreed to five points:
1. The two ministers agreed that both sides should take guidance from the series of consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes.
2. The two foreign ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.
3. The two ministers agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
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