China and India in constructive communication to settle Ladakh standoff

China and India have maintained “constructive communication” to find a mutually acceptable solution to resolve the standoff in eastern Ladakh, the Chinese military has said, underlining that Beijing attaches “great importance” to ties with New Delhi to jointly maintain peace at the borders.

Noteworthy, the Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a standoff in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.

“The two sides had positive, in-depth and constructive communication on resolving the border issues of each other’s concern and agreed to reach a mutually acceptable solution at an early date,” Ministry of National Defence spokesperson Senior Colonel Zhang Xiaogang told the Chinese media at a press briefing, referring to the commander-level talks held on February 19 between India and China.

“China attaches great importance to the China-India military-to-military relations and hopes that India and China will work towards the same goal, enhance mutual trust, properly settle differences and jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” he was quoted as saying by China Military Online, the official news portal of the Chinese Defence Ministry.

The talks held on February 19 were the 21st round of talks between the two militaries to resolve the eastern Ladakh logjam, which will enter its fourth year in May this year.

The Chinese military action in May 2020 resulted in the Galwan Valley clash that marked the most serious military conflict between India and China in decades.

According to the Chinese military, the two sides have so far agreed to disengage at four points — the Galwan Valley, the Pangong Lake, Hot Springs, and Jianan Daban (Gogra) — contributing to the de-escalation of tensions along the border.

But the talks were deadlocked over reaching a similar agreement at Depsang and Demchok, where the Indian side strongly pressed for resolution of two lingering issues.

Both sides issued separate press releases on the 21st round of talks.

A press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on the latest talks said the two sides agreed to maintain communication on the way ahead through the relevant military and diplomatic mechanisms.

“The discussions built on the previous rounds, seeking complete disengagement in the remaining areas along the LAC (Line of Actual Control) in eastern Ladakh as an essential basis for the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas,” it said in a statement.

The MEA said the two sides shared their perspectives on this in the talks held in a “friendly and cordial” atmosphere.

“The two sides have agreed to maintain communication on the way ahead through the relevant military and diplomatic mechanisms. They also committed to maintain peace and tranquillity on the ground in the border areas in the interim,” it said.

In Beijing, China’s Ministry of National Defence said the two militaries conducted positive, in-depth, and constructive communication on resolving border issues of mutual concern.

Both sides agreed to continue communication through military and diplomatic channels, guided by the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries, to reach an acceptable solution as soon as possible and “turn the page” in the border situation, the Chinese readout on the 21st round of talks said.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area. The Eastern Ladakh standoff has resulted in a virtual freeze of bilateral ties on all fronts except trade.

India is pressing the People’s Liberation Army to disengage from the Depsang and Demchok, maintaining that there cannot be restoration of normalcy in its relations with China as long as the state of the borders remains abnormal.