Jaishankar rejects Wang’s call for normalcy in India-China ties, insists on resolving LAC stand-off first

Diplomats to meet soon, military commanders to continue discussion to resolve remaining issues in eastern Ladakh.
Last Updated : 04 July 2024, 17:02 IST

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New Delhi: The diplomats of India and China will soon meet to make yet another attempt to reach an agreement on mutual withdrawal of troops from the remaining face-off points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met on the sideline of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit in Astana on Thursday and agreed that the bilateral Working Mechanism on Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs should hold another meeting soon.

The WMCC is led by the joint secretary heading the East Asia division of the Ministry of External Affairs of the government of India and the director general of the Boundary and Oceanic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of China.

Jaishankar and Wang also agreed the military commanders of both sides would also continue to meet to take forward discussions to “resolve the remaining issues” along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.

“Discussed early resolution of remaining issues in border areas. Agreed to redouble efforts through diplomatic and military channels to that end. Respecting the LAC and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas is essential,” Jaishankar posted on X after meeting Wang, adding: “The three mutuals - mutual respect, mutual sensitivity, and mutual interest - will guide our bilateral ties.”

The commander of the Indian Army’s XIV Corps based in Leh and his counterpart in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had altogether 21 rounds of negotiations to resolve the stand-off along the LAC – the de facto boundary between the two nations – in eastern Ladakh in the last four years. The last meeting between the commanders of the two sides took place on February 19.

The senior diplomats of the two nations also held 15 rounds of meetings of the WMCC after the stand-off started.

Though protracted negotiations led to the mutual withdrawal of troops by both the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA from some of the face-off points along the LAC, like Galwan Valley, the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso, Gogra Post, and Hot Springs, the stand-off could not be resolved completely so far.

The PLA troops deployed in Depsang, well inside the territory of India along the LAC with China, are continuing to block the Indian Army’s access to Patrolling Points 10, 11, 12, 12A, and 13. A face-off is also continuing in Demchok.

Beijing, however, has been claiming that the mutual withdrawal of troops by the Chinese PLA and the Indian Army from Patrolling Point 15 (Gogra-Hotsprings area) in September 2022 marked the restoration of normalcy along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. China’s claim appears to be an attempt to subtly build up pressure on India to accept the “new normal” in the Depsang and Demchok areas.

Wang reiterated it during his meeting with Jaishankar on Thursday.

“We must adhere to positive thinking, on the one hand properly handle and control the situation in the border area, on the other hand actively resume normal exchanges, promote each other, and move towards each other,” a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Government quoted Wang telling Jaishankar.

New Delhi, however, insisted on resolving the stand-off along the LAC in eastern Ladakh first to set the stage for restoring normalcy in its relations with Beijing.

A press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi quoted Jaishankar telling Wang that the two sides should “redouble efforts to achieve complete disengagement from the remaining areas in eastern Ladakh and restore border peace and tranquillity in order to remove obstacles towards the return of normalcy in bilateral relations”.

Beijing, unlike New Delhi, refrained from specifically referring to the stand-off along the LAC in eastern Ladakh in its press release on the meeting between the two foreign ministers.

Published 04 July 2024, 17:02 IST

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