Within hours of the Chinese Defence Ministry claiming that troops on both sides were gradually disengaging and the situation was moving towards de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, sources in the Indian Army said there has been no positive movement on the ground for more than two weeks now.
The standoff at Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point 17A at Gogra, Army sources said, is still to be resolved and is likely to be the focus of the fifth round of talks at the level of the Corps Commander. The fifth round of talks since June 6 is expected in the next few days. The talks were expected Friday or over the weekend but there was no official word until Thursday evening.
Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, Thursday said China and India “have conducted effective communication and coordination through both diplomatic and military channels since the clash at the Galwan Valley region” and “at present, the situation in this region tends toward de-escalation, and the disengagement between the border troops of the two countries is gradually carried forward.”
“We expect the Indian side will proceed from the overall situation of maintaining China-India relations and regional peace and stability, focus on cooperation, properly address differences, and earnestly promote the continuous development of the relations between the two countries and the two militaries along the correct direction of friendly cooperation,” he said.
Responding to the remarks, Indian Army sources said there has been no further disengagement at Pangong Tso and PP 17A, two of four friction points. Nor has there been any change in the situation at Depsang Plains where Chinese troops have blocked Indians from accessing traditional patrolling limits.
There has been a stalemate since the last round of Corps Commander talks at Chushul on July 14.
Sources said there was mutual pullback of troops, after the third round of talks on June 30, at all four friction points—PP 14 in Galwan Valley, PP15 in Hot Springs sector, PP 17A in Gogra Post area, and Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Tso. At PP 17A and Pangong Tso, sources said, the disengagement has not been completed.
Around 50 troops on each side continue to remain within a kilometre of each other at PP 17A.
In Pangong Tso, the Chinese, after coming 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC, vacated the Finger 4 base area and stepped back towards Finger 5. They continue to occupy the ridgeline at Finger 4.