A file photo of Pangong Lake in Ladakh | Visharad Saxena | Special arrangement
A file photo of Pangong Lake in Ladakh | Visharad Saxena | Special arrangement
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New Delhi: After over two weeks, the fifth round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China are likely to be held next week, which will focus on Pangong Tso at a time when the Chinese troops have increased their deployment in critical areas within their own territory, ThePrint has learnt.

All these developments come even as the status quo ante — the early April military deployment positions — that India has been insisting on, appear more difficult than when the whole stand-off started in early May.

There was no Border Personnel Meeting anywhere along the Line of Actual Control Saturday, as is customary on 1 August, which is the raising day of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

While India was keen for talks this week, China did not confirm the request. Defence sources downplayed this development, saying that the Chinese focus seems to have been on the PLA Raising Day celebrations.

Sources also said that the fifth round of talks will be held in the coming week and it will focus on further disengagement, especially at Pangong Tso.

Both sides had decided to give each other time to take disengagement steps on their own before the next round of talks at senior military commanders’ level.

Also read: India wants LAC status quo maintained, China demands India should stop construction activity

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Chinese build-up continues

Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that Chinese build-up in the hinterland continues even as both sides are engaged in disengagement talks at the military, diplomatic and official levels.

Indian satellite images as well as those procured from friendly countries have shown a large concentration of troops in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the use of possible tunnels to amass equipment.

Fresh images with the defence and security agencies have revealed that the build-up continues and is spread over several areas.

“There has been increased Chinese troop build-up in the hinterland away from the LAC. This could be to provide back-up in terms of logistics for the forward deployed troops or could be a back-up for possible forward deployment if needed,” a source said.

The source added that the increased build-up is a clear sign that the Chinese are preparing to hold their ground even in winters.

Status quo ante looks more difficult than before

Although India continues to insist on status quo ante during talks and in public statements, it looks more difficult in comparison to when the stand-off started in early May.

“The Chinese are really not showing any kind of inclination to go back to the status quo ante. There has been disengagement in the Galwan Valley and Hot Springs area. However, there is no guarantee that the Chinese will not come back. Pangong Tso continues to be a trouble spot,” a second source said.

The fear is that current positions could become the new status quo, something that Indian Army wants to avoid.

Critical areas where the Chinese continue to have an upper hand are the Pangong Tso and Depsang Plains areas.

In Pangong Tso, the Chinese have come 8 km into the Indian side of the LAC. In Depsang Plains, the Chinese continue to block Indian patrols from going to Patrol Point 10, 11, 12 and 13.

Indian deployment continues

The Indian deployment continues in Ladakh and all along the LAC. As reported earlier, it is not only the Army that is deployed, but also the Air Force and the Navy.

Indian is also going in for a multitude of emergency procurement, which includes weapons and high-altitude clothing for the over 30,000 extra troops deployed in forward locations because of the tensions with China.

A top government official said a lot of planning is being done keeping in mind the best-case, worst-case and not-so-bad scenarios.

“The military is responding to the Chinese challenge as an integrated unit, which includes the Army, Navy and the Air Force. The challenge is also being met with a holistic approach military, economically and diplomatically,” the official added.

Also read: Will ‘oppose’ any unilateral attempt by China to change LAC status quo, Japan tells India


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