India, China military talks hit rough patch

By Elizabeth Roche
The 13th round of talks were aimed at discussing disengagement of troops at the Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh.afp

NEW DELHI : Talks between senior military commanders of India and China to find a solution to the 17-month standoff in the mountains of eastern Ladakh have run into rough weather, with each side blaming the other for the deadlock.

The 13th round of talks—held on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Sunday—were aimed at discussing disengagement of troops at Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh.

On Monday, however, the two sides pointed fingers at the other for the impasse, with China saying that India had made unreasonable demands and the Indian side saying that the Chinese delegation made no constructive proposals.

The deadlock means that the chill in India-China ties, that set in after New Delhi noticed intrusions into Indian territory in May last year, is set to deepen given Beijing’s refusal to move its troops back from their current positions.

“What the Chinese seem to be saying is that there is a new reality on the ground that India needs to accept and conduct negotiations based on that," said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese Studies at the New Delhi based Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Expressing concerns over the military build-up and new infrastructure development along the disputed border to sustain the large-scale deployment by China, Army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane said the building of infrastructure “means that they (China) are there to stay."

“We are keeping a close watch on all these developments, but if they are there to stay, we are there to stay too," he had said.

According to the statement from the Indian Army on Sunday’s talks, the Indian delegation “pointed out that the situation along the LAC had been caused by unilateral attempts of Chinese side to alter the status quo and in violation of the bilateral agreements. It was therefore necessary that the Chinese side take appropriate steps in the remaining areas so as to restore peace and tranquility."

“The Indian side emphasized such resolution of the remaining areas would facilitate progress in the bilateral relations. During the meeting, the Indian side therefore made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas, but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals. The meeting thus did not result in resolution of the remaining areas," it said.

“The two sides have agreed to maintain communications and also to maintain stability on the ground. It is our expectation that the Chinese side will take into account the overall perspective of bilateral relations and will work towards early resolution of the remaining issues while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols," it added.

A spokesman for the Chinese Western Theatre Command said, “The Chinese side made great efforts to promote the easing and cooling of the border situation.. However, the Indian side still persisted in its unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which added difficulties to the negotiations."

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