China says disengagement in Ladakh progressing smoothly

Published on Feb 18, 2021 07:02 PM IST

Last week, the Chinese defence ministry, followed by the foreign ministry, had announced that the Chinese and Indian frontline troops at the south and north banks of the Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh had started “synchronised and organised disengagement”

This undated handout photograph released by the Indian Army on February 16 shows People Liberation Army soldiers and tanks during military disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. (AFP)
This undated handout photograph released by the Indian Army on February 16 shows People Liberation Army soldiers and tanks during military disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. (AFP)
BySutirtho Patranobis

China on Thursday said the disengagement of border troops in eastern Ladakh was progressing smoothly and expressed hope that both countries will make efforts together to achieve the goal.

Last week, the Chinese defence ministry, followed by the foreign ministry, had announced that the Chinese and Indian frontline troops at the south and north banks of the Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh had started “synchronised and organised disengagement”.

Since the two statements issued on February 10, Beijing hasn’t released any details of the disengagement.

On Thursday, asked to comment on the disengagement process, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said it was progressing in an organised way.

“According to consensus of our multi-round negotiations, the frontline troops have started disengagement in a synchronised and organised way on both sides,” Hua said.

“We hope the two sides will continue to observe our consensus as well as our agreements to ensure the smooth completing of the whole disengagement process,” she added.

Hua, however, did not share details of the process or the likely timeline.

“The relevant process is smooth on the whole. We hope that the two side will work in concerted efforts to achieve the goal,” she added.

About the timeline of the disengagement of the troops, she said: “I’m not aware of the specifics. You may ask the military”.

The Indian Army on Tuesday released short videos and photographs showing thinning down of troops and dismantling of bunkers, camps and other facilities by the Chinese military in the areas around the Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh in line with the agreed disengagement process between the two sides, a PTI report said.

The visuals also showed China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) using a bulldozer to flatten structures and vehicles with troops and equipment preparing to retreat to rear bases as part of the infantry disengagement.

Neither the Chinese defence nor the foreign ministries have commented on the photos or information released by India.

The ongoing disengagement of troops is the first sign of a cautious resolution of the nine-month military standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The 9th round of China-India Corps Commander Level meeting was held on the Chinese side of the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point on January 24.

At the meeting, the two sides had “…agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops. They also agreed to follow the important consensus of their state leaders, maintain the good momentum of dialogue and negotiation, and hold the 10th round of the Corps Commander Level Meeting at an early date to jointly advance de-escalation.”

The two sides agreed to continue their effective efforts in ensuring the restraint of the frontline troops, stabilise and control the situation along the LAC in the western Sector of the China-India border, and jointly maintain peace and tranquility,” a statement from the Chinese defence ministry said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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