The ongoing process of troop disengagement between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army in eastern Ladakh, the site of a nearly year-long border standoff, reportedly hit a roadblock after Beijing refused to withdraw its troops from two disputed areas at the 11th round of military-commander meeting on 9 April.
China has refused to pull its troops from at least two locations, Hot Springs and Gogra Post, in the ongoing Ladakh border dispute with India, a report in the Indian weekly Sunday Express said on Sunday.
The report, citing Indian negotiators, said the Chinese officials quipped that “India should be happy with what has been achieved” so far, as they referred to the disengagement between the two militaries along the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso as well as the Kailash Ranges, two other areas where the armies of the two nuclear-armed neighbours have been engaged in a face-off since last year.
According to the Sunday Express, Beijing expressed its inability to vacate Hot Springs (Patrolling Point 15) and Gogra Post (Patrolling Point 17A), the other disputed areas at the most recent military commander-level meeting on 9 April.
The Indian negotiators say that Beijing had previously agreed to withdraw the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from these two areas as well, only to backtrack on its commitment later.
Eleven rounds of military commander-level talks between the two countries since May of last year have led to troop withdrawals from just Pangong Tso and the Kailash Ranges, a process that began in February 2021.
Indian negotiators have, however, claimed that they are still unable to access Finger 8 of Pangong Tso as was the case before the border dispute began last year.
During the ongoing negotiations, New Delhi also demanded the withdrawal of Chinese troops from the Depsang Plains, a strategically located patch of land close to the tri-junction of Pakistan, India, and China. New Delhi says that China’s “incursion” into the Depsang Plains precedes the ongoing Ladakh border standoff.
“We would like to see disengagement in the remaining areas which would lead to de-escalation in eastern Ladakh and that would hopefully lead to the restoration of peace and tranquillity and provide conditions for progress of our overall bilateral relationship”, India’s Foreign Ministry said on the eve of the 9 April border talks.
The ongoing border standoff between the two Asian powerhouses has been described as the deadliest since the 1962 border war, with Indian Foreign Minister Subramanian Jaishankar remarking that the flare-up has “profoundly disturbed” the trust between New Delhi and Beijing.
Jaishankar accused Beijing of bringing in “tens of thousands of soldiers with full military preparation” into India, while commenting on the border standoff during a conference in December of last year.
The clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on the night of 15-16 June 2020 led to the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, as per the two governments.