China, India border meeting creates further optimism
China India Photo: GT
China and India have wrapped up the 12th round of corps commander level meeting, in which the two sides constructively discussed the resolution of remaining areas related to disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of border areas, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced on Monday.
Unlike the 11th round of talks that did not result in a joint statement, the latest round reached more consensus, but will not likely be as big as the ninth meeting that saw the disengagement in Pangong Tso, Chinese experts said on Monday.
The meeting was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side, following the meeting of the two country’s foreign ministers on July 14 and the 22nd meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs on June 25, according to a joint press release by the two countries’ defense ministries.
The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on resolving the remaining areas related to disengagement along the LAC in the Western Sector of India-China border areas, and both sides noted that this round of meeting was constructive, which further enhanced mutual understanding, the press release said.
Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday that the latest meeting saw less differences between both sides, as no joint press release was made last time.
China and India disengaged their frontline troops stationed at the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso in early February in accordance with a consensus reached during the ninth round of the corps commander level meeting, the smooth completion of which was confirmed in the 10th round of corps commander level meeting later in the month.
However, in the 11th round corps commander level in April where an agreement on further disengagement was initially expected, no joint statement was released, which analysts said indicated that solving the remaining issues were challenging for both sides at that time.
In the 12th round of talks, China and India agreed to resolve remaining issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols, and maintain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations, and that in the interim they will continue their effective efforts in ensuring stability along the LAC in the Western Sector and jointly maintain peace and tranquility, according to the latest release.
While the joint release did not go into details on disengagement in places like Hot Springs and Gogra as some Indian media had previously reported, it showed that both sides maintained communication channels, Qian said, noting that that is why the release mentioned the foreign ministers’ meeting and the border affairs working mechanism meeting, indicating that the border question is no longer just a military question, but a strategic question on political and diplomatic levels between the two countries.
The meeting is another step towards resolving the question, but the joint press release came relatively late after the meeting, which could be an indication that both sides still have differences on some concrete disengagement points and methods, so the result may not be as remarkable as the ninth meeting, which saw a disengagement in Pangong Tso, Qian said.
The joint press release and the word “constructive” are also a message to the international community, dismissing the idea that there could be another standoff or conflict amid recent media reports suggesting new troops and more advanced weapons were being deployed to border regions, because both sides are committed to resolving the question through talks, Qian said.