Updated: October 10, 2021 7:12:40 am
India and China will hold the 13th round of Corps Commander-level talks Sunday to try and resolve the military standoff on the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.
On the eve of the talks, Army chief General M M Naravane said the Chinese have been building infrastructure on their side of the region which means “they are there to stay”. He had made a similar remark while on a tour of eastern Ladakh last week.
Troops have disengaged on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso and Gogra Post, but not at Hot Springs where they continue to face each other ever since the Chinese crossed the LAC in May 2020.
The Chinese have also been preventing Indian troops from accessing traditional patrolling points on the Depsang Plains, not far from the strategic Indian outpost at Daulat Beg Oldie near the Karakoram Pass in the north.
The Indian team to the talks on the Chinese side of the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting point will be led by Lt General PGK Menon, commander of the Leh-based XIV Corps. Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military District, will lead the Chinese side.
China has been investing in infrastructure in its regions facing Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. It is testing India’s preparedness with transgressions in middle and eastern sectors.
Last week, there was a near clash in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh after Indian soldiers confronted over 150 Chinese troops. The troops jostled each other before local commanders stepped in to control the situation. Late August, nearly 100 Chinese soldiers had intruded into Indian territory in Barahoti in Uttarakhand.
On Saturday, General Naravane, speaking at the India Today Conclave, said both countries have been developing infrastructure in the region – the Ladakh frontier is in the western sector of the LAC — for the additional troops and military equipment brought in last year.
He was of the view that the LAC in eastern Ladakh would become like the Line of Control with Pakistan, but will not be active like the LoC.
“It is a matter of concern that the large-scale build-up, which had occurred, continues to be in place. And to sustain that kind of build-up, there has been an equal amount of infrastructure development on the Chinese side.”
“It means that they are there to stay,” Naravane said. “But if they are there to stay, we are there to stay too. And the build-up on our side, and the developments on our side, are as good as what PLA has done.”
He said India is “keeping a close watch on all those developments”. If Chinese troops continue to stay there for a second winter, he said, it will “definitely mean that we will be in a kind of LC situation” though “not an active LC as is there on the western front”.
He said “definitely we will have to keep a close eye on their troop build-up and deployments to see that they don’t get into any misadventure once again”.
India and China deployed additional troops and military equipment in the region last year. Each side has around 50,000 troops in the depth areas — a large number of them remained deployed through the harsh Ladakh winter last year.
The Army chief said he is not aware why China did what it did last year in eastern Ladakh, but “whatever it might have been, I don’t think they have been able to achieve any of those aims because of the rapid response by the Indian armed forces”.
Repeating a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs, he said the massive Chinese build-up “and non-adherence to various protocols that have been laid down in the past” was “the trigger for all that happened”.
The standoff, he said, has led to realisation in the Army that it needs to “do more as far as ISR is required” — intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance — and that has been the “thrust of our modernisation over the last one year”.
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