Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said that talks with China on disengagement and de-escalation in eastern Ladakh where the two countries have been locked in a border row for eight months, have not yielded any meaningful solution even as both sides are yet to announce a date for the next round of military dialogue.
In an interview to news agency ANI, Singh said neither side would scale down their military deployments in the sensitive sector as a result of the status quo there. He said the continuing stalemate was not a positive development.
Both India and China are prepared for a long haul in the Ladakh sector and are firm about holding forward positions along the LAC through the harsh winter months.
Singh said the ninth round of military talks with China to reduce border tensions could happen anytime. “Both sides have exchanged messages over the hotline on what issues need to be discussed,” Singh said.
“It is true that in order to reduce the standoff between India and China, talks were taking place on the military and diplomatic level. But no success has been achieved so far. There will be a next round of talks on the military level which can take place anytime. But no meaningful outcome has come and there is status quo,” he said.
Experts said talks were unlikely to yield any positive outcome in the short term.
“However, it is important for us to continue the dialogue. At the same time, it is critical that we stay prepared for a skirmish as the Chinese will make endeavours to recapture the strategic heights on the Kailash range.
Moving back will be a loss of face for China and also dent their philosophy of creeping assertiveness,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General (retd) BS Jaswal (retd).
While India has consistently pushed for comprehensive disengagement at all flashpoints and restoration of status quo ante of early April during the military talks, the Chinese side wants the Indian Army to first pull back troops deployed on strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso.
The Indian Army swiftly moved and occupied a series of key heights to prevent the PLA from grabbing Indian territory on the southern bank in a stealthy midnight move on August 29.
The Indian Army now controls ridgeline positions on the southern bank of Pangong Tso that allow it to completely dominate the sector and keep an eye on Chinese military activity, with the positions scattered across Rezang La, Reqin pass, Gurung Hill and Magar heights.
The Indian Army has also taken control of key heights overlooking the PLA’s deployments on the Finger 4 ridgeline on the northern bank of Pangong Tso where rival soldiers are deployed barely a few hundred metres from each other. The developments on both banks of Pangong Tso have increased India’s bargaining power during talks with the Chinese side, as previously reported by Hindustan Times.
Asked to comment on China’s expansionist ambitions, the defence minister said, “If any country is expansionist and tries to grab our land, then India has the strength to not allow anyone to take its land.”
Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Tuesday said that China had heavily deployed the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) to support its army in the Ladakh theatre along with large number of radars and missiles, even as he listed out the possible Chinese objectives for its actions at the northern border.