China wants to cement status quo, India wants de-escalation as 14th-round talks begin in Ladakh

By The Print

The 14th round of India-China military commander level talks begin Wednesday in eastern Ladakh, amid indications that Beijing is seeking to cement the current status quo, while New Delhi hopes for disengagement at the Hot Springs area, and eventual de-escalation.

Top government sources told ThePrint that tensions between India and China will continue irrespective of whether Wednesday’s talks move forward. This is based on the understanding that while disengagement at Hot Springs — which was first agreed upon in July 2020 — may finally happen, “legacy issues” like Depsang Plains and Demchok will take much longer.

The sources also said that given the scale of build-up in infrastructure on both sides of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), practically, it is going to be “tough” to expect any side to go back to April 2020 status — what was being sought initially.

The sources, while underlining that the Chinese’ words cannot be trusted, expressed satisfaction over disengagement at four of the five stand-off points in eastern Ladakh since May 2020 — Galwan Valley, northern bank of Pangong Tso, Kailash Range and Gogra — over the past 18 months.

“It is significant that the Chinese have pulled back from areas where they had come in and built infrastructure. The Chinese have never done so anywhere else,” a top-ranking source said.

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