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Ladakh standoff | India, China agree to stop sending more troops to frontline

An Army convoy in Leh on September 22, 2020.   | Photo Credit: ANI

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday on the sixth round of Corps Commanders talks, India and China said both sides had agreed to “stop sending more troops to the frontline” and “refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground” while agreeing to hold more talks to resolve the standoff.

“They agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgements, stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation,” the joint statement said on the senior military commander level held on Monday. The two sides had candid and in-depth exchanges of views on stabilising the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)in the India-China border areas, it stated.

A defence source said while the disengagement is yet to be agreed upon, the recent talks will ensure there won't be any is no further build up along the LAC. c, “take practical measures to properly solve problems on the ground, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border area,” the statement added.

The talks, which went on for 14 hours, were quite positive despite lack of apparent result, the source said. The talks were held in line with the five point plan agreed between the two foreign ministers in Moscow early this month, another source said.

India has pressed for a road map for complete disengagement and de-induction of Chinese troops from all friction points and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the source added. For the first time, a Joint Secretary from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was present at the talks.

The situation on the ground remains quiet since the foreign ministers meeting, the second source added. Officials had stated that for India, mutual disengagement would not be acceptable and China would have to pull back its troops from the standoff areas.

Shift in objectives

A new strategic report has said that China has doubled air bases and defensive positions near Indian border in three years.

The 2017 Doklam crisis appears to have shifted Beijing’s “strategic objectives”, with China more than doubling its air bases, air defence positions and heliports near the Indian border over the past three years, according to the latest report from geopolitical intelligence platform, Stratfor.

Since the Doklam crisis, China has started constructing at least 13 entirely new military positions near its borders with India, including three air bases, five permanent air defence positions and five heliports,the report said. “Construction on four of those new heliports started only after the onset of the current Ladakh crisis in May,” the report authored by Sim Tack, Senior Analyst at Stratfor said.

Stating that once finished, this infrastructure will provide support for an even greater intensity of Chinese operations, the report observed, “The timing of the Chinese build-up of military facilities along the border with India just prior to the ongoing Ladakh standoff suggests these border tensions are part of a much larger effort by China to assert control over its border regions.”

The report observed that this approach is similar to China's strategy in the South China Sea, where a build up of permanent defence facilities supports Chinese localised military superiority and significantly raises the “potential cost of military opposition” to Beijing's maritime claims in the region.

By applying the same strategy along its land frontier with India, “China aims to discourage Indian resistance or military action during future border disputes by ostentatiously demonstrating its ability and intent to engage in military confrontations,” it stated.

China’s strategy aims to confront Indian with an insurmountable challenge in territorial disputes by leaning on broad support capabilities that provide Beijing with a tremendous ability to mobilise forces into disputed border areas, the report added.

Observing that New Delhi will also continue to upgrade its overall military capabilities, particularly where gaps exist, the report said efforts by India and China to “translate these capabilities into dominance during border disputes will increase the possibility of direct confrontation.”

With inputs from Ananth Krishnan

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 10:20:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ladakh-standoff-new-army-talks-positive-but-no-breakthrough-on-de-escalation/article32667313.ece

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