India-China Corps Commanders To Return To The Negotiating Table On January 12
14th round of military talks to focus on de-escalation at Hot Springs & Depsang flashpoints on LAC
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE: Indian and Chinese troops reach out to exchange New Year greetings on January 1 at the Hot Springs flashpoint
The 14th Round of India-China Corps Commander-level talks on resolution of the 20-month-old military face-off in Eastern Ladakh will take place on January 12, sources in the Indian security establishment announced on January 10.
“The 14th Round of Senior Highest Military Commander Level (SHMCL) Talks will take place on 12 January 22 at Chushul-Moldo meeting point, on the Chinese side at 0930 AM (IST). Indian side is looking forward to constructive dialogue to resolve the balance friction areas,” it was stated.
This will mark the resumption of India-China military talks after a gap of three months. The 13th round of Corps Commander-level talks in October 2021 did not result in any headway towards resolution of the stand-off. Consequently, troops continue to remain heavily deployed for the second successive winter along both sides of the contested boundary in Eastern Ladakh.
There’s been no progress in talks since September 2021. Although there’s been no major incident on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh in the last few months, the situation still remains tense and India is being cautious as the Chinese PLA has been unpredictable.
On the table during the 14th round of talks on Wednesday will be de-escalation from the remaining flashpoints at Patrolling Point 15 or Hot Springs in the Demchok area besides Depsang.
Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation at Hot Springs in May 2020. A relatively smaller issue also exists at the Charding Nalla at Demchok. Also, Chinese troops continue to block Indian patrols at the Depsang bottleneck feature.
China took a hardline position at the 13th round of talks in October, because of which the deadlock continued.
In the absence of prospects of a long-term resolution to the LAC issue, the effort is to arrive at de-escalation at Hot Springs. If this happens, it would mark the end of the confrontation arising from the Chinese occupation of the Galwan Valley in May 2020, which led to the first bloody clash between the two sides since 1975. De-militarised buffer zones have been restored at the other friction points in Galwan, Gogra and the Finger area of Pangong Tso.
The issue in the Depsang Plains, where face-offs have been taking place since 2013, is being dealt with separately, sources explained. While there is no Chinese deployment on the Indian side of the LAC in this area although, PLA troops continue to block Indian patrols into this area.
Since the LAC confrontation started in May 2020, there has been an increase in the number of face-offs even in the Middle Sector along the Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand stretch of the border. This stretch has been peaceful for decades. Besides Ladakh, China has also effected troop build-up along the Sikkim border and the Arunachal boundary and augmented military infrastructure.