The 18th round of military talks between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was held on Sunday in an effort to reduce tensions along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), where the two sides have been engaged in a border dispute for almost three years.
The two sides last met at the Corps Commander level in December 2022 to talk about unresolved border concerns.
Beginning in early May, the India-China border dispute will enter its fourth year. The Indian and Chinese forces still each have more than 60,000 soldiers posted in the Ladakh theatre, despite four rounds of disengagement from Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, Gogra (PP-17A), and Hot Springs (PP-15).
After 18 rounds of negotiations, the Indian and Chinese soldiers are still unable to resolve the issues at Depsang in the Demchok sector and Charding Nullah Junction (CNJ) in the Daulet Beg Oldi sector.
Officials with knowledge of the situation stated on Sunday that the conversations take place before the Chinese defence minister’s planned trip to India for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conference, which will be held in New Delhi on April 27-28. Up until the time this article was submitted, there has been no formal statement regarding the LAC talks.
On April 27, the main SCO defence ministers’ conference will take place, and bilateral discussions between the Chinese defence minister Li Shangfu and the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu with their Indian counterparts are anticipated. The meeting of the SCO foreign ministers will be held in India in May. The culmination of these conferences will be the SCO Summit, which will take place in July and be hosted for the first time by India since it joined the organisation in 2017. India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are the other eight members of the SCO.
The two parties determined that “security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector” of the LAC will be maintained at their most recent meeting in December 2022. According to a statement, “the two sides agreed to maintain close communication and dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the outstanding issues as soon as possible.” 11 days had passed since a clash along the LAC at Yangtse, close to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, left several Indian and Chinese soldiers hurt.
The two sides have been embroiled in a border dispute when Li travels to New Delhi for the SCO defence ministers’ meeting. After the June 2020 Galwan conflict, which strained bilateral relations, Li’s trip to India marks the first by a Chinese defence minister. The seven-hour battle near Patrolling Point 14 in Galwan Valley claimed the lives of twenty Indian soldiers. Even while Beijing officially stated that only four Chinese soldiers were killed, India estimated that the PLA suffered twice as many fatalities as the Indian Army.
On April 19, Singh stated negotiations would continue for a peaceful resolution of the ongoing dispute in the Ladakh region and that disengagement and de-escalation were the preferred course of action. Singh also expressed confidence in the Indian Army’s ability to manage any situation along the country’s border with China.