New Delhi: The ongoing military talks between India and China have hit a roadblock at Pangong Tso, with the Chinese standing firm on their positions even though both sides agree in principle on the need for disengagement, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said more talks will be held in the future, adding that any substantive movement forward may only be possible through diplomatic dialogue, and not military talks. There is a feeling, sources added, that the Chinese are looking at talks at a “higher level” to resolve the situation mutually.
According to the sources, the fifth round of corps-commander-level talks Sunday focussed on the Pangong Tso, where the Chinese have come in by about 8 km inside the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but the dialogue has reached a stalemate.
“Both sides have agreed in principle that there needs to be disengagement even in Pangong Tso. There would be more meetings on this issue,” a source said.
Sources said the Chinese have been firm in their assertion that they are on their own territory, and have cited a road constructed by them during the 1999 Kargil Battle to stake claim. The road extends till Finger 4, one of the eight “finger-like” protrusions of the lake’s northern bank that have been used by the two sides to outline their positions.
Just two days before the 5th round of corps-commander-level talks, Chinese envoy to India Sun Weidong had said at a webinar that “China’s traditional customary boundary line is in accordance with the LAC” on the north bank of the lake. He rejected suggestions that China has expanded its territorial claim at Pangong Tso, as the report said.
The Indian contention is that the LAC lies at Finger 8 even though the Chinese have, over the past many years, stopped Indians from moving beyond Finger 5. Even though the Chinese presence has thinned down from Finger 4 since disengagement efforts began last month, and moved towards Finger 5, they continue to dominate Finger 4.
“There has not been much change on the ground since the 4th round of corps-commander-level talks on 14 July,” another source said.
More talks ahead with focus on diplomacy
China has strengthened its positions in areas around the Line of Actual Control (LAC), with no intention just yet of going back to early April positions as demanded by India.
As reported by ThePrint earlier, there is a fear that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is intentionally delaying the disengagement process to sustain it till winters and then open a new front, possibly in the Northeast.
The Chinese, sources said, “are not looking” at a war-like scenario. Even so, the Indian Army, the Air Force and the Navy will continue with their forward deployment during the winter.
The sources said more talks will be held in the coming days to resolve the tensions along the LAC, with a focus on diplomatic parleys. Military-level talks, they added, are one “many kinds of interactions going on between the two countries”. There is a deepening sense, they said, that the military talks have achieved what they could have and that only talks at diplomatic levels can move things ahead.
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