Tensions at LAC persist as India, China hold 17th round of high-level talks, first since Tawang clash

The two sides last met on July 17, 2022. However, this is the first meeting between India and China following the latest border tussle that took place in Arunachal's Tawang sector on December 13.
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

NEW DELHI: Amidst the escalated tensions in the Eastern Sector of the LAC the Corps Commanders of India and China held the 17th round of Corps Commander Level Meeting at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side on 20th December 2022.

In a Joint Statement on Thursday the two sides said, “Building on the progress made after the last meeting on 17th July 2022, the two sides exchanged views on the resolution of the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector in an open and constructive manner.”

Addressing the Parliament on 13 December Rajnath Singh had informed that on 09 December 2022, PLA troops tried to transgress the LAC in the Yangtse area of the Tawang Sector and attempted to "unilaterally change" the status quo on the disputed Himalayan border.

“The Chinese attempt was contested by our troops in a firm and resolute manner. The ensuing face-off led to a physical scuffle in which the Indian Army bravely prevented the PLA from transgressing into our territory and compelled them to return to their posts. The scuffle led to injuries to a few personnel on both sides. I wish to share with this House that there are no fatalities or serious casualties on our side,” he said.

Due to the timely intervention of Indian military commanders, PLA soldiers went back to their locations. As a follow-up of the incident, the local Commander in the area held a Flag Meeting with his counterpart on 11 December 2022 to discuss the issue in accordance with established mechanisms.

Before it, there had been scuffles in eastern Ladakh which turned serious in June 2020 in Galwan leading to the death of soldiers on both sides.

The 17th round of talks was “a frank and in-depth discussion, keeping in line with the guidance provided by the State Leaders to work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest which would help in the restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector and enable progress in bilateral relations,” said the two sides.

In the interim, the two sides agreed to maintain security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector. The two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.

The technical term for Corps Commanders Talks is Senior Highest Military Commander Level (SHMCL); so far there have been 16 rounds of talks; Post-Galwan, talks took place for the first time on June 6, 2020. Else, matters were resolved at the Higher Commander Level (Major General) meetings.

The 3,488 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) is divided into the eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim), the central sector (Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh) and the western sector (Ladakh). The average height ranges from 10,000 ft at Arunachal Pradesh to over 18,700 ft at Karakoram Pass.

There has been disengagement at Galwan, North and South banks of Pangong Tso, Gogra-Hotsprings with the corps commanders meeting 17 times in addition to the multiple diplomatic parlays between the two countries.

After the 2020 Ladakh stand-off, India and China currently maintain a combined deployment of over 1 lakh soldiers along with a massive presence of tanks and artillery.

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The New Indian Express