Senior military commanders of the two nations met this week in the context of the India-China border tensions spreading to the Arunachal Pradesh sector, but there was little sign of progress in resolving the 30-month standoff in the Ladakh sector.
On December 20, just 11 days after a battle along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Yangtse, close to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, left several Indian and Chinese soldiers injured, corps commanders from the two nations met on the Chinese side of the Chushul-Moldo border crossing point.
The military chiefs of India and China met for the third time this year, and since the Ladakh region impasse began in May 2020, there have been a total of 17 rounds of negotiations. After a devastating battle in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese forces, bilateral ties have never been worse.
The military leaders’ meeting in July led to the September disengagement of Chinese and Indian forces at Gogra Hot Springs. There has been disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake, in the Galwan Valley, and in Gogra as a consequence of dozens of rounds of diplomatic and military negotiations. The two sides have more than 60,000 troops each and advanced weapons stationed in the Ladakh sector, but there has been no progress on sticking points like Depsang and Demchok.
According to New Delhi, Indian soldiers repelled Chinese troops who sought to breach the LAC at Yangtse and alter the status quo along the disputed border.
At Depsang and Demchok, the Indian side would have pushed for disengagement, according to Air Vice Marshal (retired) Manmohan Bahadur.
Although the joint statement implies that nothing has changed, these are significant challenges. The prolonged deployment is taking a toll on manpower and equipment, but our services are prepared for this. He continued, “In the end, it comes down to the money and labour figures.