LAC talks: China says de-escalation trend ‘positive’, silent on remaining issues

Army trucks move towards LAC in eastern Ladakh. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

China’s military said late on Saturday it hoped India “could cherish the current positive trend of de-escalation” following the 11th round of talks between Corps Commanders, but did not acknowledge the remaining unresolved issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The talks on Friday held at Chushul concluded at 11.30 p.m. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement on Saturday that both sides had “a detailed exchange of views for the resolution of the remaining issues related to disengagement along the LAC” and “agreed on the need to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols”. Both sides also agreed to jointly maintain stability on the ground and avoid any new incidents.


A spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theatre Command said in a statement late on Saturday, both sides “exchanged views on issues of mutual concern and agreed to maintain communications through military and diplomatic channels”.

“We hope the Indian side could cherish the current positive trend of de-escalation and cooling in the border area, adhere to the relevant agreements between the two armies and the consensus of the previous talks and move towards the same direction as the Chinese side to jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area,” the spokesperson said, reported State broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN).

The PLA, unlike in previous rounds, did not acknowledge the remaining issues or the need to expeditiously resolve them. This was also the first instance since at least the sixth round of talks in September last year that both sides did not issue a joint statement, suggesting there is no agreement, as yet, on resolving issues at the Patrolling Points in Gogra and Hot Springs.

Also unlike in previous rounds, China’s statement did not come from the Ministry of Defence in Beijing, but from the Western Theatre Command, which is headquartered in Chengdu, noted the Communist Party-run Global Times.

The changes "indicated that the latest meeting did not result in an agreement of a full disengagement in other areas as expected,” Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the newspaper, adding that "it could be challenging to solve remaining issues”.

Mr. Qian added that with the spring and summer months usually marking a spike in tensions along the LAC, a situation where "the temperature picks up and troops are still not disengaged in other regions” could impact the "momentum of de-escalation”.

Resolving issues in Gogra and Hot Springs here has taken longer than expected. Following the 10th round of talks on February 20, both sides in a joint statement hailed the “smooth completion” of disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake, which was seen as the most difficult dispute to resolve, and said it was “a significant step forward that provided a good basis for resolution of other remaining issues”. They had agreed to convene the 10th round to take up the remaining issues 48 hours after completing disengagement at Pangong Lake.

The joint statement issued after the ninth round on January 24, during which both sides made a breakthrough and agreed to a plan to disengage at Pangong Lake, said India and China had “agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops.”

India has said there will be no return to normalcy in relations with China until disengagement is fully completed, followed by de-escalation along the LAC and the return of PLA troops, which had deployed in large numbers along the LAC, to their peacetime positions.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 6:28:42 AM |

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