Hot Springs conflict: What India and China are discussing in 13th round of LAC talks
India and China are holding the 13th round of negotiations on Sunday to cool tensions down the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. Officials familiar with the development told Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity earlier this week that problems at Hot Springs, or Patrol Point-15, are likely to come up in Sunday's discussions, which began at 10:30am in Moldo (Chusul) on the Chinese side of the LAC. The ANI news agency also reported citing officials in the know that the resolution of the friction point at Hot Springs will be discussed during the talks on October 10.
What is the dispute over Hot Springs point?
Hot Springs, traditionally known as Kyam, is a campsite and the location of an Indian border check-post – Patrol Point-15 – at the Chang Chenmo river valley in Ladakh near the contested border with China. The spot was so named due to the presence of a hot spring in the area; it is one of the four points where the Indian and Chinese armies went face-to-face back during the standoff in May 2020.
The three other points of friction are Patrol Point-17A near the Gogra Post, Patrol Point-14 in Galwan Valley, and the northern bank of Pangong Tso. Chinese troops had crossed over the contested border across all these points and positioned themselves in Indian territory. Since then, a series of talks have been held among top military negotiators deployed by New Delhi and Beijing to resolve the friction. The meeting, currently ongoing, is part of the 13th round of these talks.
What were the developments in the last round of talks?
After the last round of talks – the 12th in the series of negotiations held on August 2 – the Indian and Chinese troops pulled back from the Patrol Point-17A near the Gogra Post, the second such disengagement this year. In mid-February, the two countries agreed to withdraw troops and weaponry from the Pangong Tso sector in Ladakh.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army's General Manoj Mukund Naravane said on Saturday that if the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is there to stay in the Ladakh theatre, so will the Indian troops. He was referring to the massive military buildup and infrastructure development by the Chinese army across the LAC.
“It is a matter of concern that the large-scale buildup that occurred last year (when the border row erupted) continues to be in place," the chief of the army staff told HT on the eve of the 13th round of talks. “To sustain that kind of buildup, there has been an equal amount of infrastructure development on the Chinese side. It means that they are there to stay. But if they are there to stay, we are there to stay too,” Gen Naravane added.