Four days after New Delhi announced that India and China had agreed on “early and complete disengagement” along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Beijing Tuesday said border troops of both countries “have disengaged in most localities” following close communication via military and diplomatic channels.
There was no official confirmation or response from either the Indian government or the Indian Army to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement ahead of the fifth round of talks, likely later this week, between Corps Commanders of the two armies.
The Chinese reluctance to step back from Pangong Tso has stalled the disengagement process and it is likely to be the focus of talks between the Corps Commanders. The military standoff began early May after Chinese and Indian troops came to blows on the north bank of the lake.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said: “Recently China and India have held frequent communication via diplomatic and military channels, with four rounds of commander-level talks and three meetings under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs.”
“As border troops have disengaged in most localities, the situation on the ground is deescalating and the temperature is coming down. Currently the two sides are actively preparing for the fifth round of commander-level talks to resolve outstanding issues on the ground. We hope the Indian side will work towards the same goal with China, implement the two sides’ consensus and jointly uphold peace and tranquility along the border.”
Last Friday, after a virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, New Delhi said both sides agreed on “early and complete disengagement”.
The WMCC meeting set the stage for the fifth round of Corps Commander talks – they have met four times since June 6 — to resume the disengagement process at Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point 17A at Gogra. At PP 14 (Galwan Valley) and PP 15 (Hot Springs), the two other friction points, disengagement has already taken place.
In Pangong Tso, Chinese troops had come up to Finger 4 on the north bank, 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC. As part of the disengagement process, the Chinese vacated the Finger 4 base area and headed towards Finger 5. But they still occupy positions on the ridgeline at Finger 4.