India VS China : India and China engage in another series of diplomatic discussions regarding the border standoff

india vs china minister S Jaishankar

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that restoring normalcy in ties with China hinges on the conventional deployment of troops along the LAC

The 15th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs since the standoff began in May 2020 was held in Beijing on Wednesday, according to a statement issued by the external affairs ministry on Thursday.

The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on how to achieve complete disengagement and resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of India-China border areas,” the statement said.

“In the interim, both sides agreed to maintain regular contact through diplomatic and military channels and on the need to uphold peace and tranquillity on the ground in the border areas in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and protocols,” it added.

The statement made no reference to forward movement in addressing friction points at Demchok and Depsang, where troops from both sides remain deployed in close proximity to the LAC. Dozens of rounds of diplomatic and military talks have resulted in the two sides withdrawing troops from other friction points such as the north and south banks of Pangong Tso Lake, Gogra and Hot Springs.

The joint secretary (East Asia) from the external affairs ministry led the Indian delegation while the Chinese side was led by the director general of the boundary and oceanic department of the foreign ministry.

The last meeting of the WMCC was held on November 30 last year and it too had not produced any significant outcome. This was followed by the 21st round of talks between Indian and Chinese corps commanders at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on February 19.

After the standoff began in May 2020

The WMCC first met virtually in June the same year, shortly after a brutal clash in Galwan Valley left 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops dead. The first fatalities on the LAC in 45 years took bilateral relations to the lowest ebb since the 1962 border war between India and China. Both sides now have some 60,000 troops each arrayed along the LAC in Ladakh sector.

India has consistently said that the overall bilateral relationship cannot be normalised without the restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC. China’s leadership, however, has been contending that the two sides are moving towards a normalised management of the border issue, which should be put in an “appropriate place” while the two countries take forward relations in other spheres such as trade.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that restoring normalcy in ties with China hinges on the conventional deployment of troops along the LAC, which will also shape the future relationship with Beijing.

“My first duty to Indians is to secure the border. I can never compromise on that,” Jaishankar said while responding to a question on India-China relations during an interaction with the Indian diaspora in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

“We’re still negotiating with the Chinese. I talk to my counterpart… Our military commanders negotiate with each other. But we are very clear that we had an agreement. There is a Line of Actual Control, we have a tradition of not bringing troops to that line. Both of us have bases some distance away, which is our traditional deployment place and we want that normalcy,” he said.

Normalcy in troop deployment will be the “basis for the relationship going forward and we’ve been very, very honest with the Chinese about it”, Jaishankar said.