Disengagement complete at most locations, claims China

China’s foreign ministry, asked about the status at Ladakh friction points, had claimed that disengagement had been completed in most areas
An Indian Army convoy moves along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district(Reuters)
An Indian Army convoy moves along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district(Reuters)
Updated on Jul 29, 2020 06:06 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Beijing/New Delhi | BySutirtho Patranobis and Rahul Singh

Indian and Chinese front-line troops have completed disengagement at most locations on the border, China said on Tuesday -- a statement Indian Army officers described as a play of words that did not reflect the full picture on the ground.

The Chinese foreign ministry was giving an update on the disengagement of border troops following last Friday’s three-hour meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, which met to review the situation in the border areas and the disengagement process in the western sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Also read | How the cold will alter the India-China power equation next month in Ladakh

Responding to a specific query on whether Indian and Chinese soldiers had completed disengagement at Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra areas, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said disengagement was completed in most areas. India’s external affairs ministry did not comment on the matter .

“The front-line frontier defence forces of the two countries have disengaged in most locations, and the current situation continues to develop in the direction of easing and cooling,” he said.

But Indian Army officers said the locations did not really cover the key areas of conflict.

“Completed disengagement at “most locations” reveals there are locations where the process hasn’t made significant progress. Disengagement at Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point-17 (Gogra) hasn’t been up to the desired level,” an Indian Army officer aware of the matter said on condition of anonymity.

Also read | Indian Navy’s clear message to Beijing following escalation of border tension ‘registered’ by China: Report

Differences between India and China on the disengagement process along the LAC emerged following the meeting last Friday, with New Delhi calling on Beijing to “sincerely implement” the understandings on troop withdrawals reached by senior military commanders of the two sides.

“Recently China and India have conducted intensive communication through military and diplomatic channels. We have held four rounds of commander level talks and three meetings of WMCC,” Wang said on Tuesday.

“Now we are preparing for the fifth round of commander level talks to study the settlement of the remaining issue. We hope India will work with China to implement our consensus and uphold peace and stability along our border areas,” he added.

The commander-level talks are likely to be held later this week.

Following last Friday’s WMCC meeting, a statement from the Indian external affairs ministry said the two sides agreed “it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understandings reached between senior [military] commanders in their meetings till date”.

India at the WMCC meeting focused on the need for China to completely withdraw its forces from key friction points in Ladakh sector in keeping with commitments made at the meetings of the corps commanders and the July 5 phone conversation between the two Special Representatives on the border issue, people aware of the matter told HT in New Delhi.

It is still not clear whether Beijing is looking at the disengagement of troops in the same way.

The Chinese statement on the same WMCC meeting, issued in Beijing in Mandarin, referred to “positive progress made by the front-line border defence forces of the two countries to disengage and ease the situation on the ground”.

Northern Army commander Lieutenant General YK Joshi last week said that disengagement between forward deployed Indian and Chinese soldiers from friction areas along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) was a “complex and intricate process” that required “diligent execution”.

Joshi said disengagement was being verified on the ground to “ensure its veracity and correctness.” He said de-escalation of the border conflict would begin after complete disengagement.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2021