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Chinese, Indian generals' meeting fails to defuse border standoff

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Chinese and Indian generals meeting Saturday (June 6) failed to end the latest border standoff between the world's two most populous nuclear nations that has seen thousands of troops sent to both sides of the disputed border.

The talks were requested by India and were held at the Border Personnel Meeting Point in Maldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.

Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, led the Indian delegation to the meeting while Chinese side was represented by Major General Liu Lin, Commander of the South Xinjiang military region.

While the outcome was not known, the talks were not believed to lead to any major breakthrough but only set the stage for further talks, The Hindu said.

According to the Times of India, neither the Army nor the Ministry of External Affairs provided any details about the much-anticipated talks. Without specifically mentioning the talks, an Indian Army Spokesperson said: "Indian and Chinese officials continue to remain engaged through the established military and diplomatic channels to address the current situation in the India-China border areas."

The Times of India quoted military sources as saying that India was not expecting any "concrete outcome" from the meeting, but considers it important as the high-level military dialogue could pave the way for a negotiated settlement of the tense standoff.

Before the talks began, the Army issued an advisory to the media that both sides remained engaged through established military and diplomatic channels "to address the current situation in the India-China border areas" and speculation would not be helpful, The Hindu reported. "At this stage, therefore, any speculative and unsubstantiated reporting about these engagements would not be helpful and the media is advised to refrain from such reporting," the Army advisory said.

Since the tension began, both Armies have held 12 dialogues at various levels, including three meetings at the level of Major-General.

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 Line of Actual Control (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.

According to Business Standard, starting in the third week of April, more than 5,000 Chinese soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have intruded into five points in Ladakh - four along the Galwan River, and one near the Pangong Lake, the paper reported on Saturday, May 23.

India's major demand is the restoration of status quo before May, as beginning early May Chinese troops moved in large numbers into Indian territory at Pangong Tso, Galwan and Gogra in eastern Ladakh, and de-induction of troops by China.

Another concern is Chinese build-up at Finger 4 of Pangong Tso up to where India has always held territory, while it claims areas as far as Finger 8. In addition, China moved armor and artillery close to the Line of Actual Control on its side, a measure that India says is against the boundary agreements.

Tellingly, China and India do not agree on how long their border is. India gives a figure of 3,488 kilometres (2,167 miles). China does not give a number, but state media says the border should be just 2,000 km (1,250 miles) when China's claims in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and other regions are taken into account.

The Ladakh stand-off is the most serious since India and China, who fought a brief war in 1962, were locked in a similar face-off in Doklam, in the eastern Himalayas, that lasted nearly three months in 2017, according to NDTV.

High-altitude face-offs have become more frequent in recent years. There have been four since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

The US administration has said this is a new sign of China's growing military assertiveness.

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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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