Disengagement Process in Eastern Ladakh Not Yet Complete: India Rebuts China's Claim

Clay Curtis
July 31, 2020

Chinese troops have so far been reluctant to step back further from Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point 17A at Gogra, two of four friction points along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.

Indian officials say Chinese troops have intruded on to its side in the remote western region, while China says it has not breached the disputed border and has asked India to restrain its frontline troops. This territorial transgression in the world's loftiest Himalaya battleground represents a major escalation of tensions between the two most populous countries in the world after the October 2013 India-China border defense cooperation agreement failed to make certain that border patrols along the LAC do not escalate into armed conflict.

While both sides are in engaged in the fifth round of military talks, India has said the disengagement process is yet to be completed.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava told reporters during a weekly briefing that "There has been some progress made towards this objective but the disengagement process has as yet not been completed".

In Beijing, the spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defence Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang said that disengagement of border troops between the two countries is being "gradually carried forward" and the present situation in the region "tends towards de-escalation".

"As we have stated earlier, the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship", Srivastava said. "China is committed to peaceful development and is not a strategic threat to India", Weidong said.

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Sun also pointed out that in its long history, China had "never colonized" other countries.

After the last round of military talks, government sources said the Indian side conveyed a "very clear" message to the Chinese army that status quo ante must be restored in eastern Ladakh and it will have to follow all mutually agreed protocols for border management to bring back peace and tranquillity. "Forced decoupling is against the trend and will only lead to a "lose-lose" outcome", he said.

India had also asked China to "sincerely implement" the understanding on troop withdrawals reached by senior military commanders of the two sides.

The envoy disclosed that China had stopped exchanging maps of two of the three sectors of the LAC for over 15 years because it found that India was making exaggerated claims.

"On reports that India would change its "One China policy", Sun said Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet were entirely "China's internal affairs" with a bearing on China's sovereignty and security". "Before we solve this problem (border delineation), we need to maintain peace and tranquility along the border areas", he said.

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