Four days after New Delhi announced that India and China had agreed on “early and complete disengagement” along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Beijing Tuesday said border troops of both countries “have disengaged in most locations” following close communication via military and diplomatic channels.
There was no official confirmation or response from either the Indian government or the military to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement ahead of the fifth round of talks, likely later this week, between Corps Commanders of the two armies.
The military standoff along the Ladakh frontier began early May after troops came to blows on the north bank of Pangong Tso. The Chinese reluctance to step back further from Pangong Tso has stalled the disengagement process and it is likely to be the focus of talks between the Corps Commanders.
“The situation is now continuing to head in the direction of easing and cooling down,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told the Global Times at a press conference Tuesday.
“A fifth round of commander-level talks is currently under preparations to resolve the remaining issues,” he said.
Four rounds of commander-level talks and three meetings on border affair discussions and coordination have been held, he said.
Wang said Beijing hopes India can meet China halfway, implement the consensus both sides have reached and safeguard peace and stability in the border region together.
With Chinese reluctance to step back further from Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point 17A at Gogra stalling the disengagement of troops, Indian and Chinese diplomats held talks last Friday, and New Delhi said both sides agreed on “early and complete disengagement”.
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, commenting on the virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, said both sides affirmed the “positive progress” made in disengaging the frontline border troops of the two countries” and would maintain dialogue “through military and diplomatic channels” to “promote further de-escalation”.
The WMCC meeting set the stage for another round of Corps Commander talks – they have met four times since June 6 — to resume the disengagement process. At PP 14 (Galwan Valley) and PP 15 (Hot Springs), the two other friction points, disengagement has already taken place.
In Pangong Tso, Chinese troops had come up to Finger 4 on the north bank of the lake, 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC. As part of the disengagement process, the Chinese vacated the Finger 4 base area and headed towards Finger 5. But they still occupy positions on the ridgeline at Finger 4.