NEW DELHI: After a nine-month-long stand-off along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh, the situation appeared to ease a tad on Wednesday as both China and India began a “synchronized and organised” disengagement process.
While Indian sources said it was limited to armoured vehicles, the Chinese Ministry of National Defence claimed that the frontline troops from both sides along the Pangong Tso had started disengaging. Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, said: “The Chinese and Indian frontline troops at the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso started synchronized and organised disengagement from February 10.”
It was in accordance with the consensus at the ninth round of China-India Corps Commander level meeting, he added. From the Indian side, a senior Army officer confirmed the pullback of armoured vehicles, including infantry combat vehicles. “The armoured vehicles are moving back but troops at the frontline have not been thinned,” he said.
The disengagement is expected to happen in phases, another senior officer said. “The infantry moving back will be the last step; it will depend on compliance of the phased disengagement from the Chinese side,” the officer said. The disengagement began on a day when the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, in an article said that the two countries should meet each other half way in addressing problems while putting the boundary issue in an appropriate place in bilateral ties.
“We should put the boundary issue in an appropriate place in bilateral relations.... “It’s important for China and India to respect each other, enhance mutual trust, seek common ground while shelving differences and meet each other half way,” Sun suggested.