GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 606, 15 January 2022

India, China 14th round of military talks in Ladakh
Teshu Singh

What happened
On 12 January 2022, the 14th round of military-level talks was held between India and China at the Chushul-Moldo meeting point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh. The meeting lasted for 13 hours.

The Indian delegation was led by Lt Gen Anindya Sengupta, and the Chinese side was led by Major Gen Yang Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military district (SXMD). Both the officers were leading their respective delegation for the first time. 

Both sides agreed that they "should follow the guidance provided by the State Leaders and work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest." "The two sides also agreed to consolidate on the previous outcomes and take effective efforts to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector including during winter." 

What is the background
First, the progress and the lack of it. The 13th round of meeting was held on 10 October 2021. There was no joint press release after the meeting. China released a statement about the meeting and blamed India for "unreasonable and unrealistic demands." However, on 13 January 2022, unlike the previous meeting, the two sides issued a joint statement. It stated: "the two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue via military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest".

What does it mean?
The joint statement acknowledges the need to resolve the border issue. There are still three disputed points - Hot Spring, Demchok and Depsang. Both sides have already disengaged from Pangong Tso in February 2021 and from Patrolling Point 17 in the Gogra Post in August. Prior to the meeting, the Indian side was hopeful of resolving the issues related to disengagement at Patrolling Point 15 -  Hot Springs in eastern Ladakh. Some momentum was built between the soldiers of the two sides on the occasion of the New Year, wherein the soldiers from both sides exchanged greetings and sweets to defuse the 20 month long tensions. 

The 14th round of talks can be termed as optimistic; unlike the 13th round of talks, there was no deadlock. Both sides agreed to release a joint statement. This indicates an intention to maintain the momentum of the talks. Earlier, Gen Naravane has reiterated that it was a good thing the talks are going on, which shows that we can resolve our differences through dialogue. 

During the regular Press Conference held on 13 January 2022, Chinese Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, said: "At present, China and India are in dialogue and communication through diplomatic and military channels to ease the situation at the border."

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