India, China army talks to defuse border tensions fail

Oct 11, 2021: The two sides said on Monday that talks between Indian and Chinese military commanders to evacuate troops from key friction areas on their border had stalled and failed to ease the 17-month stalemate that sometimes led to fatalities.

The continued stalemate means that the two nations will keep troops in areas beyond Ladakh in dangerously frozen temperatures for the second consecutive winter.

India’s defence ministry, in a statement on Monday, said it gave “constructive suggestions” but the Chinese side was “not agreeable” and “could not provide any forward-looking proposals.”

A statement from a Chinese military spokesperson said “the Indian side sticks to unreasonable and unrealistic demands, adding difficulties to the negotiations”.

The commanders of the two forces met on Sunday in the Ladakh region of Moldo for talks after a two-month hiatus. The two countries have deployed tens of thousands of troops along the de facto border with the help of archetypes, tanks and fighter jets, known as the Line of Actual Control.

Since February, both India and China have withdrawn troops from some closed positions on the northern and southern edges of Pengong Tsu, Gogra and the Galvan Valley, but they have retained additional troops as part of a multi-level deployment.

“Yes, it is a matter of concern that the large-scale buildup has occurred and continues to be in place, and to sustain that kind of a buildup, there has been an equal amount of infrastructure development on the Chinese side,” General M M Naravane said.

“So, it means that they (China) are there to stay. We are keeping a close watch on all these developments, but if they are there to stay, we are there to stay, too,” he said.

“China’s commitment to safeguarding its sovereignty is unwavering, and China hopes that India will not misunderstand the situation,” said Senior Colonel Long Shaohua of the Western Theater Command.

Temperatures in the outlying areas of Ladakh drop to -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit) in January. Traditionally, soldiers on both sides retreated to their summer positions, but have been close to the disputed border since it began in May 2020.

Last year, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in clashes with Chinese troops in clubs, rocks and fists on the disputed border. China says it had lost four soldiers.

The LAC separates the Himalayan regions from Ladakh in the west to the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China fully claims. India and China fought a deadly war on the border in 1962.

Since the standoff began last year, the Chinese have been building dozens of large meteorological structures in eastern Ladakh, along with the LAC, to house their troops during the winter.

Indian media has also reported on new helipads, widening of airstrip, new barracks, new surface-to-air missile locations and radar locations.

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