Published: 21:15, February 22, 2024 | Updated: 21:15, February 22, 2024
Latest India-China military talks seen constructive
By Aparajit Chakraborty in New Delhi

In a significant development toward settling border disputes and repairing bilateral ties, China and India held their 21st round of Corps Commander level meeting, in which the two sides agreed to maintain communication on current border issues to "turn the page" over the border situation.

The dialogue was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on Feb 19 and two sides agreed to maintain contact and forge the way forward through the relevant military and diplomatic mechanisms, according to statements issued by China’s Ministry of National Defense and India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

The two sides conducted positive, in-depth, and constructive communication on resolving border issues of mutual concern, China’s Defense Ministry said

Analysts said the latest round of corps commander meeting marks a major step that could help to resolve outstanding issues between the two sides on a mutually acceptable basis in near future.

The two sides conducted positive, in-depth, and constructive communication on resolving border issues of mutual concern, China’s Defense Ministry said.

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It said that both sides agreed to continue communication through military and diplomatic channels, guided by the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries, to reach an acceptable solution for both sides as soon as possible and "turn the page" in the border situation.

India’s foreign ministry said in its own statement on Feb 21 that the discussions built on the previous rounds, seeking complete disengagement in the remaining areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh as an essential basis for restoration of peace and in the India-China border areas.

The two sides committed to maintain peace and tranquility on the ground in the border areas in the interim, it said, adding that they shared their perspectives on this in the talks held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere.

The 21st Corps Commanders meeting is a major step towards normalizing relations between India and China, said Palepu Ravi Shankar, a former senior Indian army officer and defense expert.

The meeting should aim to resolve the differences between both sides on a mutually acceptable basis so that there can be disengagement of troops from the remaining friction points at Depsang and Demchok on the LAC, he said, adding that it will be the precursor towards normalizing relations between India and China.

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“Now both sides should set a time frame to resolve the issue in remaining areas along the LAC and should resolve all issues on the basis of this 21st round of Corps Commanders meeting,” said R.S. Vasan, a retired Indian navy commodore who is now the director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies, a think tank.

Top political leaders on both sides must put in more efforts to ensure that all unresolved problems are resolved at the earliest, Vasan said.

Analysts said that there is possibility of another round of military talks taking place soon.

Other nations should take note of both sides' diplomatic efforts, which should serve as a model that negotiations and diplomatic channels are the most effective methods of resolving disputes, said Haans Freddy, a professor in the Department of Political Science at Madras Christian College in Chennai, India.

The last formal disengagement along the LAC took place in September 2022, when both sides pulled back troops to disengage from Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of Eastern Ladakh, marking a major step forward in the border standoff between the two sides which began in May 2020.

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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, or “Panchsheel”. These principles, jointly advocated by China,  India and Myanmar, have become a basic norm governing international relations, Ma Jia, charge d’affaires at the Chinese embassy in India said at a Chinese New Year carnival in New Delhi on Feb 6.

Over the past year, China-India relations have shown a positive momentum of improvement, Ma said at the event, adding: “We hope the window for communications gets bigger, the platform of practical cooperation becomes larger, (and) the bridge for people-to-people exchanges will be rebuilt.” 

 

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.