India-China 10th round positive, detailed roadmap to tackle residual issues next

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New Delhi — The marathon 10thround of dialogue between military commanders of India and China recorded a positive movement with both sides agreeing to work towards a road map to address residual issue along the 1,597km Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

“The 16-hour long meeting went off well. However, the two sides will need to continue discussing details of addressing residual issues pertaining to disengagement in Gogra-Hot Springs and patrolling rights in Depsang bulge area,” a senior official said about the talks held on Saturday.

Although the disengagement from friction points of Gogra-Hot Springs on the banks of Chang Chemmo River, a tributary of Shyok, is not expected to be contentious, the related force deployments along the Khugrang river, another tributary, will need to be worked out mutually step by step.

Depsang bulge is a 2013 legacy issue with thePeople’s Liberation Army (PLA) trying to muscle out Indian Army patrols from patrolling points 10 to 13 by blocking the ingress route at Raki and Jeevan nullah. While the Indian Army claims to be patrolling these points, Depsang is a continuous source of friction and a possible trigger to future military escalation.

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While the military commanders on the ground are working towards disengagement in east Ladakh, the alignment of the LAC in the western sector has been left to the special representatives of the two countries on boundary resolution. However, the Indian prerequisite to special representatives level dialogue is that both sides restore the status quo ante on the LAC and neither unilaterally disturbs the status quo by use of force.

Even though the two sides have withdrawn their armour from the Pangong Tso, both armies will remain wary of each other as Indian troops will not forget the transgression through use of force by PLA on finger four in May 2020 and the Chinese will not forget the Indian counter on north and south banks of Pangong Tso on August 29-30. The PLA may have also learnt a lesson of high-altitude deployment and the havoc rising glacial waters of River Galwan can play on troops deployed on its banks for military operations.

It is quite evident that PLA wanted to enforce the 1959 line, rejected by India at that time, on Ladakh LAC, but the Indian political and military response was more than a match for the expansionist Chinese army.

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