India-China Border Tensions: Ninth round of Army Commanders talks begin, India to focus on early solution

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January 24, 2021 4:03 PM

“It is a good move as the issues at hand need resolution through dialogue. Most of 2020 was spent in gaining moral ascendancy by initially the physical contact at Galwan, loss of lives on both sides and the swift occupation of the Kailash Range, by the Indian Army, thus gaining the advantage of dominating the PLA defences both by observation and fire,” opine experts.

As has been reported by the Financial Express Online earlier, in the 8th round, India Army has insisted on an early disengagement by the Chinese troops.

Amid the border standoff between Indian and Chinese forces, Military commanders of both sides are meeting after a long gap for the 9th round of talks. The focus of the talks which are going on at Moldo, opposite Chushul sector in India is on efforts to defuse tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and find a solution to end the standoff.

“It is a good move as the issues at hand need resolution through dialogue. Most of 2020 was spent in gaining moral ascendancy by initially the physical contact at Galwan, loss of lives on both sides and the swift occupation of the Kailash Range, by the Indian Army, thus gaining the advantage of dominating the PLA defences both by observation and fire,” opine experts.

“The winter months have had the deployment continued at Eyeball contact, though some troops have been withdrawn in the depth areas; which is primarily a calculated risk assuming that no escalation is likely. However, as the winter thaws out in late February and March, it’s to be seen that what the PLA does,” Lt Col Manoj K Channan, Indian Army veteran says.

An expert view of an Indian Army veteran

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Lt Col Channan says, “Whilst the PLA has built-up its infrastructure, as is the Indian Army has to been creating necessary infrastructure. While the troops have been given the creature comforts, it’s assessed that the summer months will see increased activity as infrastructure is built up for the weapons and equipment as well as logistical support units.”

It’s also assessed that the summer months will see increased activity to have the roads open 24×7; so that the troops deployed can be sustained by the land route in addition to the logistics support by air.

The restructuring of the order of battle and the allocation of troops will see increased operational and training activity in the summer months as all ranks carry out their area familiarisation and coordinating the finer nuances that need to be done to maintain the offensive edge.

President Joe Biden administration is sworn in and it is still early to foretell the policy towards China. “However, the US interest in India will remain supreme as the administrations have ensured that irrespective of the leadership, the two largest democracies having joint interests in the South East Asian region,” Lt Col Channan he opines.

According to him “Any expectation by those watching these engagements closely will be negligible as the Indian Government is firm that PLA withdraws to March 2020 positions. Confidence Building Measures to include a sincere effort to recognise the Line of Actual Control and this is a wish, most likely to be ignored by the CCP/ PLA as it binds them and agreeing towards a peaceful border. Though desirable, it does not fall in the Chinese approach as it will lead to precedence which limits its interests with other countries that they share their land borders with as well as their interests in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.”

“The Chinese have been focused on the Malabar Naval Exercises as well as the Quad as it gets further refined with an aim of containing the PLA Naval capabilities in the region, 2021 will be an interesting year as we see the dynamic changes impacted by the changes in the US Presidency and its renewed public declaration of increased engagement with its allies.”

“Till then, it remains for the Military leadership assisted by MEA representatives engaged in the dialogue, to find an amicable solution to a situation created by the PLA. The Indian Government has adequately displayed its grit and will continue to do so whether on the LAC or in the sea lines of communication (SLOCS),” the former army officer concludes.

View of a senior journalist and China commentator

According to Ranjit Kumar, “The fact that the previous eight round of talks has not resulted in any forward movement in reducing tensions along the Line Of Actual control speaks volumes of intentions of the Chinese Army and political leadership. The previous eight round of talks focussed on disengagement and de-escalation of troops along the India China Line Of Actual control, but on the contrary, the Chinese kept on deploying a huge number of troops, forcing India to counter the Chinese deployments with an equal number of soldiers and military equipment.”

“If we analyse the outcome of the previous eight rounds of army commander talks, we can very well infer that the Chinese have been buying time to consolidate its hold on the icy heights of Eastern Ladakh. The much-awaited 9th round of India China army commander talks on large scale Chinese intrusion does not evoke hope because of Chinese intransigence,” he opines.

“It would be worth recalling that every fresh round of army commander level talks was held on the basis of the agreements reached during the WMCC talks, but the Chinese army commanders never honoured those commitments,” Mr Kumar says.

“It would be interesting to analyse, why the Chinese side swear on the basis of the five-point outcome of the external affairs minister S Jaishankar – Wang Yi early September meeting in Moscow, 2020 and them renege on those agreements. The meeting agreed to take early action for early disengagement and de-escalation along the LAC in the Eastern Ladakh region. It would not be wrong to say that the Chinese have perfected the art of dual speaking,” Mr Kumar observes.

Current position

In eastern Ladakh’s sub-zero conditions, there are around 50,000 Indian troops currently deployed and are in a high state of combat readiness. China has deployed an equal number of troops.

As has been reported by the Financial Express Online earlier, in the 8th round, India Army has insisted on an early disengagement by the Chinese troops.

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