India, China talk past each other on Depsang and Demchok

Updated on Dec 23, 2022 09:18 AM IST

The India-China military dialogue on December 20 yielded no results with both sides sticking to their positions on restoring patrolling rights to the Indian Army in Depsang Plains and CNN junction in Demchok. Tawang transgression had been taken up separately by the local commander on December 11.

File Photo of India-China border meetings.
File Photo of India-China border meetings.

New Delhi: The 17th round of India-China Corps Commander level meeting last Tuesday was an anodyne affair with no forward movement recorded as the PLA stuck to its position on restoring patrolling rights to Indian Army in Depsang Plains, south of Daulet Beg Oldi, and Charding Ninglung Nullah (CNN) junction south of Demchok in East Ladakh.

It is understood that while the Chinese commander talked about normalization of the East Ladakh LAC, the Indian side talked about de-escalation of troops, tanks, artillery, and rocket systems that both sides had deployed post May 2020 belligerence by the PLA troops on Galwan, Gogra-Hot Springs, and north banks of Pangong Tso. While there has been disengagement on all these points, the East Ladakh LAC is packed with troops on both sides for three consecutive winters and possibility of a local flare up and subsequent horizontal escalation cannot be ruled out.

There was no discussion on the PLA transgression at Yangtze plateau in the Tawang sector on December 9, 2022 as the issue had been addressed by the local commander on December 11 in accordance with the established mechanisms and the matter was also pursued through diplomatic channels. The PLA has been transgressing into the Yangtze area post 2008 Tibet uprising while the contest dates to the 1986-87 Somdorong Chu incident.

Although the Indian Corps Commander and the Chinese South Xinjiang Military Region Commander decided to maintain security and stability in the western sector by remaining in close touch, the PLA refused to budge on resolving the Depsang Plains and the CNN track junction issue. Both the issues pre-date the Pangong Tso transgressions with PLA blocking the Indian Army rights to patrol its points 10 to 13 in Depsang Bulge and in the CNN track junction area, south of Demchok.

It is understood that the Indian side stuck to restoration of patrolling rights in Depsang Plains and CNN area at the border meeting while the Chinese side stuck to its position by claiming that the situation was normal. In short, the two sides talked past each other at the meeting with each reiterating its version for future peace and tranquility on the East Ladakh LAC.

Even though the Indian Army troopers are locked up in the East Ladakh freeze for three winters, the men and machines are fully deployed to counter any aggression from the other side. The Indian side has noted with concern about the new highway C-695 being constructed with a new bridge coming up across the Pangong Tso near occupied Khurnak Fort area east of Sri Jap area. The new bridge will allow PLA faster inter-sector deployments from south to north banks of the saltwater lake to prevent the repeat of August 29-31, 2020 by the Indian Army. It is quite evident that PLA would never have vacated the finger 4 to 8 reliefs from north banks of Pangong Tso if the Indian Army had not occupied the Rezang La-Rechin La heights in a brave August

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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