Troop movements halted at India-China standoff points but defences are up deep inside
India, which was the first to speak about the meeting at the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point some 14,000 feet above sea level, had underlined on Sunday that the two sides had agreed to peacefully resolve the situation.
There hasn’t been any activity at the four standoff points along the Line of Actual Control after Indian and Chinese military commanders held a 7-hour-long ice-breaking meeting over the weekend, people familiar with the developments told Hindustan Times on Monday.
India, which was the first to speak about the meeting at the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point some 14,000 feet above sea level, had underlined on Sunday that the two sides had agreed to peacefully resolve the situation. On Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry statement about the discussions over the weekend made the same point.
To be sure, the two sides are not anywhere close to a resolution of the standoff at three points in the Galwan valley and the fourth, near Pangong Lake.
Saturday’s meeting between Lt Gen Harinder Singh, commander of Leh-based 14 Corps, and a Chinese delegation headed by Maj Gen Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region, agreed to keep talking at the brigade and battalion commander level.
The Indian assessment is that the shortest time frame that one could look at for a resolution is next month, if not later. That would be comparable to the time taken to end the Doklam standoff that lasted 73 days and ended only after conversations at the highest level.
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But the good thing, people familiar with the development told HT, is that there has been very little activity at the standoff sites over the past day or two.
The Indian side, however, has taken note of a defensive military buildup by the People’s Liberation Army in places such as Kashgar, the headquarters of the PLA’s Xinjiang military district some 480 km from the standoff points along the LAC.
An Indian official said the buildup at the district headquarters had happened over the last few weeks and days, around the time that China had been talking about dialogue to resolve the standoff that started from a May 5 clash between soldiers at one location in eastern Ladakh.
According to senior indian officials, India had responded and mobilised its troops also.
“Our buildup matches the Chinese deployment, if not more, in terms of troops, support elements, force multipliers and aerial support,” a senior official said.
Chinese troops did have an advantage in the initial days of the standoff when its soldiers took the first steps to adopt an aggressive stance at Pangong lake and Galwan valley. But the Indian deployment was beefed up rapidly after additional troops underwent the seven days of acclimatization required to enable them to operate at 16,000 feet height.
One official said the Chinese forces had been putting pressure on the Chip Chap river-Karakoram-Trig heights-Galwan-Depsang bulge axis after the Indian Air Force revived the Daulat Beg Oldie airfield by landing an AN-32 transport aircraft in May 2008. After a standoff with Chinese troops in April 2013, the Indian Air Force had landed the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules four-engine military transport aircraft as well.