India and China will hold the ninth round of corps commander level military talks tomorrow to address the ongoing military standoff in Eastern Ladakh. The talks would be held in Moldo opposite the Chushul sector.
Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh for over eight months as multiple rounds of diplomatic and military talks have not yet produced any major breakthrough. India has all along been maintaining that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the mountainous region.
The eighth and last round of military talks between the two sides had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points. During the talks, China had proposed moving its troops back to Finger 8, and return of troops by the two sides to their original locations on the south bank of the lake. The proposal also included moving back tanks and artillery to the depth areas on either side to reduce chances of any incident in a region where tensions are already high, and troops are battling the harsh Ladakh winter.
Meanwhile, in a clear message to China, Chief of Army Staff Gen M M Naravane last week said India is committed to resolve the eastern Ladakh standoff through talks but no one should make any mistake of testing its patience. The Indian Army is ready to stand its ground in eastern Ladakh for as long as it takes to resolve the stand-off, Naravane said, acknowledging that China is “manifesting itself” on the ground but added that the Indian forces are prepared to handle any eventuality.
After an initial round of disengagement in early July, the Chinese stepped back from the base of Finger 4 to Finger 5, and Indian troops moved to Finger 3. But the Chinese refused to vacate the ridge of Finger 4, and have been there ever since.
In late August, Indian troops surprised the Chinese by occupying dominating heights on the south bank of Pangong Tso, and in the larger Chushul sub-sector.
Indian troops positioned themselves on Gurung Hill, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rechin La and Rezang La. They now have direct view of China’s Moldo Garrison, and the strategic Spanggur Gap, which can be used to launch offensives — as the Chinese did in 1962. Indian troops also readjusted their positions on the north bank of the lake, occupying features to dominate Chinese positions on the ridgeline connecting Finger 3 and Finger 4. This scramble for heights led to warning shots being fired by the two sides.