india china 2020 – The Eastern Link https://theeasternlink.com Connecting Regions of Asia. Sun, 28 Jun 2020 11:23:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.1 https://theeasternlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cropped-external-link-symbol-32x32.png india china 2020 – The Eastern Link https://theeasternlink.com 32 32 Security Wise : Modi Throwing In The Towel, Not Pushing Out Chinese https://theeasternlink.com/security-wise-modi-throwing-in-the-towel-not-pushing-out-chinese/ https://theeasternlink.com/security-wise-modi-throwing-in-the-towel-not-pushing-out-chinese/#respond Sun, 28 Jun 2020 10:50:14 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=5366

Often the best thing for political leaders as well as generals, serving or retired, to do during volatile border crises of the kind India has on its hands is to resist the impulse to say something, anything, because their statements are usually overtaken by events. The COAS, General MM Naravane, discovered no doubt to his […]

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Often the best thing for political leaders as well as generals, serving or retired, to do during volatile border crises of the kind India has on its hands is to resist the impulse to say something, anything, because their statements are usually overtaken by events.

The COAS, General MM Naravane, discovered no doubt to his discomfiture that a bare ten days after he talked about the two armies agreeing to, and being involved in, the process of “phased disengagement”, the situation erupted June 15 on the Galwan with the death by bludgeonings and drownings in the river of 22 Indian soldiers, including Lt Col Santosh Babu of 16th Bihar.

The mystery around why these killings by Chinese soldiers using nails-studded batons and similar type of weapons even occurred when Article 6 of the 1996 Agreement with China absolutely permits the attacked to use sidearms and infantry weapons in defence, only deepened when the former army chief General JJ Singh told a TV channel June 19 that this was because the army strictly followed the government’s injunctions against the use of force, any force, on the LAC. He apparently believed the government’s list of no-no’s over-rode Article 6’s provision for resort to lethal force. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s announcement June 21 that forwardly deployed field commanders were now free to retaliate in kind at least proved General JJ Singh right in terms of the previous rules of engagement. However, it doesn’t explain why the army in any way felt constrained by them — unless one assumes that officers up and down the command were, like General JJ Singh, unaware of Article 6, and if they were so aware, didn’t want to exercise their right of just response, not even to save themselves.

Now that the government is on board Article 6, the question is has the army made sure to rapidly arm all jawans and officers on the LAC with compact steel spiked maces and flails and instructions for their express use preemptively if they sense Chinese intent? Because otherwise, our mountain infantrymen will be in no better position than when surprised by the adversary on June 15 evening, and the outcome will not be different or any less bloody.

If the army brass were wrong-footed by surprise Chinese action, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s virtual clean chit to China in his televised declaration of June 17 about the status quo not being disturbed at all was astonishing, considering TV channels in the previous days were regularly flashing commercial satellite images showing substantial military infrastructure buildup (pill boxes, depots, troop hostels, even kraals for armoured vehicles), dug-in artillery pits, and occupation of the entire area between topographic features Finger 4 and Finger 8 on the Pangong Lake, and similar construction by the PLA, inclusive of a helipad, northeast of the site of the imbroglio on the Galwan River.

The Indian people watching TV news are, unenviably, left to either trust their eyes (visual satellited data) or believe the PM.

I have been saying since the beginning of this territorial tussle that the Indian government had the imagery intelligence from Indian satellites making passes over these contested areas for over a year now when the PLA first initiated its construction activity. A person at the senior most level dealing with national security in the government confirmed this. The conclusion: Even as he was completely in the know, Modi did nothing. Not sure why though. Could it be because he expected that his personal relationship with the Chinese President Xi Jinping would motivate the latter to keep the LAC quiet? And, now by not acknowledging the Chinese buildup on the Pangong Tso and in the Galwan area, he is still affording Xi the maneuvering space to, even at this late date, pullout without “losing face”?

Beijing has been preparing its annexation plans for awhile and seemingly didn’t care Indian satellites were conveying photographic evidence of PLA activity to Delhi. Xi, it’d appear, was confident Modi would not react violently. The reports from those who accompanied Modi to Wuhan suggest the Indian PM was particularly taken by Xi’s deft personal touches, such as conducting the Indian leader around his birthplace (near that Chinese city), etc. The result is Xi is playing Modi like a fiddle.

Xi’s conviction about Modi’s inaction in the face of provocation may also be because of the 2008 agreement binding Delhi to not rake up the matter of clarifying the LAC (alluded to in the preceding post) that the US-based Stimson Centre Chinese-origin scholar Yun Sun (not Sun Lun — my mistake!) based her analysis on. Yun concluded, in effect, that Delhi is cognizant of the latitude China feels it has in redefining the LAC, and it is this that China has exploited. When asked about this and Delhi’s response a very high official who served in the UPA government tells me there was no such agreement and, in fact, that clarification about the LAC was sought in 2010 and again in 2012. “We drew the conclusion quite early in 2003-4 when it was clear that China wanted ambiguity about the LAC”, he writes in his message, “that the only real answer was on the ground. Hence the 72 GS roads, two extra divisions, the mountain strike corps, the reopening of ALGs etc. But you know all this. The other responses were diplomatic, or narrative building etc.”

As to why the lowland and the heights on the eastern shore of the Shyok River fronting on the Daulat Beg Oldi/Karakorum- Depsang road were not secured once the alignment of this road was fixed a decade or more back, well, there’s no satisfactory answer. A senior military man in the loop advised that I needed “to understand both the dynamics of LAC and the terrain”. Given that the PLA doesn’t have a much easier terrain on its side, the Chinese seem to be able to better cope with geography and the vicissitudes of the LAC.

In this mess, however Modi anticipates this crisis to peter out, one thing is certain, China will not give up the Indian territory it has occupied nor surrender the physical assets it has constructed. In short, Beijing will not negotiate away the land it has acquired by proactive action in the Himalayas. This about draws the limits on Indian diplomacy. The sooner Modi government accepts this reality the more expeditiously it can approve military plans for evicting the PLA intruders , whatever it takes, because there’s no alternative. Especially because it wouldn’t want to be in a situation where commercially available satellite images will belie, at every turn, the comfortable fiction it may choose to flog about there being no Chinese aggression and occupation, and no situation that a bit of jaw-jawing with the Chinese won’t smoothen out. Beijing will be happy to talk but will not move out an inch.

A limited war, as I have maintained from the start, is the only way to vacate these areas of the PLA. It is also imperative a more proactive army establish soonest possible and at whatever cost a presence on the eastern shore of the Shyok River, and especially on the Galwan, Cheng-chenmo valley openings on the Shyok, whatever the difficulties of terrain and the LAC orientation in these areas.

The Chinese seem to appreciate that old saw about possession being nine-tenths of the law. What the Indian government and MEA understand about the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is anyone’s guess.

No doubt bent on cutting a deal, the Modi government urged the Army Commanders’ Conference to fall in line. It did, deciding to disengage across the board and to do so fairly rapidly based on the agreement reached by the Leh GOC Lt Gen Harinder Singh and the Chinese Maj Gen Liu Lin meeting in Chushul. Caution has been thrown to the winds. There’s no hint here of a proportionate withdrawal, with verification at each step that the PLA has pulled back as well. It will end up providing solace to Beijing and encourage it to get into the occupy, build-up, annex cycle that will leave India ever more vulnerable to Chinese military pressure.

Mark my words, the territory taken away by the Chinese will stay annexed. And this will be proven by commercial satellites a month hence which will show no change in the PLA force disposition on the Galwan and the Pangong Tso.

(Bharat Karnad , Professor Emeritus of Center for Policy Research, is author of a revealing book on Modi’s foreign policy)

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Hit China Where It Hurts Most https://theeasternlink.com/hit-china-where-it-hurts-most/ https://theeasternlink.com/hit-china-where-it-hurts-most/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2020 03:45:00 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=5296

What does China want? This question is now ubiquitous after China’s reprehensible misadventure with the Indian army near the Galwan River. Just when the concerns between the two armies were supposed to deescalate, China’s dastardly act creates a more resolute India in its vision of China. This became evident from PM Modi’s speech in which […]

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What does China want? This question is now ubiquitous after China’s reprehensible misadventure with the Indian army near the Galwan River. Just when the concerns between the two armies were supposed to deescalate, China’s dastardly act creates a more resolute India in its vision of China. This became evident from PM Modi’s speech in which he highlighted on India’s peaceful resolution while emphasising that “sovereignty and integrity of India” can never be compromised.

Knee-jerk reactions

There is a certain perception that China is no Pakistan: they execute well-thought plans! If at all true, the obvious concern will arise with China’s rationale behind such a provocative move, which not only makes India react but also places the former in a very negative light in front of the global community. China’s new misadventure with unilaterally redefining a loosely delineated LAC, and then escalating this to a rustic, wild street fight with the clubs and stones can be interpreted as a panic reaction. The Indian reinforcements in the geo-strategic domains are possibly one of the reasons that are clearly cornering them.

There is also the Covid-19 issue, where China is the clearly identified villain for the global community. Their misdemeanours in the South China Sea with escalated stand-offs with Vietnam and Malaysia are readily reported. Their open threatening of Australia for the latter’s call for independent Covid-19 investigation and their wolf-warrior diplomacy is falling flat on its face! In the scenario of this pandemic crippling the global economy and polity, instead of maintaining a low profile and act as a partner trying to promote global peace, China has acted in a way that can be best be described as “opposite of the optimum”. China is not just emerging as a “global bully”, a deeper insight may reveal that its policy and governance brings it very close to North Korea. China is indulging in what are more knee-jerk reactions than well-thought plans. It is possible that India’s exalting positions over the last few years in the geo-strategic space and reinforcement in the borders are making them wary of their Himalayan neighbour.

The Covid-19 scenario has been witnessing the QUAD (a potential security arrangement among Australia, India, Japan, and the US) in the Indo-Pacific projecting a more prominent role for India in the region, whereas China has lost substantial grounds in the geostrategic space. It is no longer a trusted partner except for a few nations that have already fallen prey to its “market imperialistic” design of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) due to lack of vision, wherewithal, and diligence. So one hand, such knee-jerk reactions may emerge out of sheer “geostrategic jealousy”.

The provocation

On the other hand, China may have been genuinely concerned with India’s reinforcements of borders ever since the Doklam skirmish. Probably, China apprehends that any reinforcement in the form of deployment can indeed render China-occupied Aksai Chin and the western parts of Tibet vulnerable, thereby jeopardising the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The third possibility remains India’s strategic proximity with the USA, Australia and Japan. The US President’s prime weapon to ensure incumbency in the forthcoming US presidential elections in November happens to be feeding the Electoral College with rants against China. Australia and Japan are also supporting Indian causes in geopolitical forums. Hence, this “club and stone” skirmish may be a veiled threat from Beijing to Delhi for getting close to the US and other allies.

Beijing’s self-goal

This is where China is committing its biggest mistake. With a negative public sentiment about China prevailing in India, China, with delinquent antics, is virtually pushing itself to lose out on the buoyant and burgeoning Indian market. This will hit them hard! There is hardly any other market in the world that can boast of having more than 50 per cent of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65 per cent below the age of 35, and whose incomes have increased annually in the range five to 8.5 per cent between 2009 and 2018.

While Covid-19 will shrink the Indian purchasing power, it is bound to grow fast over time. Earlier, China understood these dynamics, and therefore, wanted to establish the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor with the tacit objective of exploiting the cheap factor markets (human and natural capital) of eastern India and capturing the growing demand or the product markets of the western, southern and northern India. India gave the project a cold shoulder.

India further had various issues with joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a regional trade agreement with 15 other members (including ASEAN and Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea) and withdrew from the trade pact. One of the major problems in the trade pact for India was the very presence of China. Therefore, with Australia and India showing clear proclivities of reducing their Chinese import dependence, the geopolitical and geostrategic problems of China with various ASEAN nations whether over the issues over the Mekong or the South China Sea, won’t it be a wise move to eject China out of RCEP to begin new negotiations? There cannot be a more potent weapon than the economic one.

Nilanjan Ghosh heads ORF’s Calcutta chapter. This article first published in Mail Today

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Secret Pompeo Meet With Chinese Diplomats Amid India-China Clashes https://theeasternlink.com/secret-pompeo-meet-with-chinese-diplomats-amid-india-china-clashes/ https://theeasternlink.com/secret-pompeo-meet-with-chinese-diplomats-amid-india-china-clashes/#respond Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:20:09 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=5038

Washington (CNN) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is slated to meet with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Hawaii Wednesday as tensions escalate between China and the US.The meeting had been kept under wraps by the State Department until Wednesday morning, but CNN reported on Sunday that the top US diplomat was expected to meet […]

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Washington (CNN) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is slated to meet with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Hawaii Wednesday as tensions escalate between China and the US.The meeting had been kept under wraps by the State Department until Wednesday morning, but CNN reported on Sunday that the top US diplomat was expected to meet Chinese officials this week at Hickam Air Force Base to discuss a wide range of issues. The Chinese Foreign Ministry was similarly tight-lipped about the meeting in Honolulu. Although the State Department has not disclosed what specific items are on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, it takes place as relations between Washington and Beijing have plummeted. It also comes on the heels of renewed aggression by North Korea and a deadly clash at the border between China and India.

Pompeo has led Trump administration officials in denouncing the Chinese government for a lack of transparency and disinformation campaign on the coronavirus outbreak. Officials have indicated the administration intends to punish Beijing over the spread of the pandemic.

President Donald Trump announced a slew of retaliatory measures against China in late May, slamming China for imposing a controversial national security law on Hong Kong that undermines its autonomy. He said the US would no longer grant special status to Hong Kong, and would also take action to block “certain foreign nationals from China” from entering the US and sanction officials in China and Hong Kong for role in “smothering” Hong Kong’s freedoms.Amid its rhetorical barbs, the Trump administration has also sought to bring China to the negotiating table for nuclear arms control talks, which are slated to take place next week in Vienna between the US and Russia. Chinese officials have repeatedly rebuffed efforts to get them to participate in a trilateral arms control agreement.Pompeo has increasingly painted the rift between the two nations in terms of a clash of antithetical ideals and has accused China of attempting to undermine democracy abroad.

“They have 1.4 billion people, and they are beginning to move into places like Africa, and they’re running influence operations here even in our United States, with the effort to undermine the democratic values, the freedom-loving values that places like the United States and places like Europe have,” Pompeo said in a recent interview with Christian radio show “Family Talk with James Dobson.””And so if you ask me the question, does the Chinese Communist Party have every intention of taking away those central ideas that our founding fathers bestowed upon us, I think the answer is almost certainly yes,” Pompeo said. China’s government-controlled media has attacked Pompeo as “evil,” “insane” and an “enemy of mankind.”As Beijing has sought to take advantage of unrest over racial injustice and crackdowns on protesters and journalists in the US, Pompeo lashed out at the suggestion that the US had ceded the moral high ground to China.”There is no equivalence between our two forms of government. We have the rule of law; China does not. We have free speech and embrace peaceful protest. They don’t. We defend religious freedom; as I just noted, China continues its decades-long war on faith,” he said at a press briefing last week. “The contrast couldn’t be more clear: During the best of times, China ruthlessly imposes communism. And amidst the most difficult challenges the United States faces, we work to secure freedom for all.”

Courtesy – CNN

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Is Xi Losing Control Over The PLA ! https://theeasternlink.com/is-xi-losing-control-over-the-pla/ https://theeasternlink.com/is-xi-losing-control-over-the-pla/#respond Wed, 17 Jun 2020 03:45:00 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=5009

If there is one message that emerges clearly from the brutal clash at Galwan, it is that Xi Jinping is slowly but surely losing control of the PLA and therefore the plot. It is beyond doubt now, that the entire attack at Galwan was premeditated at the Western Theatre Command level, by General Zhao Zongqi, to […]

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If there is one message that emerges clearly from the brutal clash at Galwan, it is that Xi Jinping is slowly but surely losing control of the PLA and therefore the plot. It is beyond doubt now, that the entire attack at Galwan was premeditated at the Western Theatre Command level, by General Zhao Zongqi, to avenge Doklam, which was a blot on his otherwise perfect career. Forced to give way at Doklam by the then imminent Modi-Xi meet, Zongqi continued as Western Theatre Command to take a chance at redeeming himself. Destiny conspired as the India’s revocation of Article 370 provided an opportunity for Zongqi to try his luck. This, coupled with Xi’s preoccupation with defending the COVID-19 and other geopolitical consequences, provided him the opportunity to rock the boat. Hence started the occupation of Galwan. Unfortunately here the plot started to unravel. Faced with a hard set of Indian commanders at the 14 Corps and the Northern Command, the hopes of creating a fait accompli for India went kaput. India built up man for man, bullet for bullet against the Chinese deployment and also went beyond. The oft stated principles of war of concentration of effort was well played by the Indian’s who ensured that the numbers matched where it mattered.

During the discussions and the negotiations, it became clear that Indians were not going to play ball. They had hardened their stance and dug in their heels. Now that Zongqi had stuck out his neck, he had no option but to do something before the inevitable pull back. What happened at Galwan last night would have been just that something to redeem himself. The plan, and there was obviously a plan, would probably have been to inflict serious casualties on the Indian side, cause embarrassment and leave after delivering the proverbial bloody nose. Even if that blood nose led to loss of a few lives, so be it. Unfortunately, there is an old military adage that say, no plan survives contact. And thus so it was, having lulled the Indian side by agreeing to a pull back, it struck during the disengagement phase…the least likely of the phases for a clash. Having ambushed the CO of the Unit and his escorts, the plan fell apart. From here on, the events are well known. The battalion reacted far in excess of what had been anticipated by the PLA. The violence spiralled out of control. Even destiny conspired triggering a landslide causing casualties. The net result was that a large number of Indian and Chinese soldiers lost their lives, and many suffered grievous injuries. All because one General could not control his ambition and wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. Now funeral pyres will blaze in India and China (since they have started cremating their dead now).

Xi seems to have got conned into this situation by Zongqi’s dreams. Or is there more to it than meets the eye. Could this have been orchestrated to put Xi into a spot? COVID-19 has taken a toll on the Chinese psyche and with many Chinese now baying for blood, is this the first step to ousting the President for Life. Is the PLA slowly but surely slipping out of circulation? Time will tell. Time will also tell us when the inevitable retaliation from the Indian side happens…at a time and place of its own choosing.

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China Talks Of An ‘Agreement’ On Ladakh Border https://theeasternlink.com/china-talks-of-an-agreement-on-ladakh-border/ https://theeasternlink.com/china-talks-of-an-agreement-on-ladakh-border/#respond Thu, 11 Jun 2020 08:43:16 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4861

China on Wednesday said “actions” were afoot from both sides in line with an “agreement” reached with India to “ameliorate the border situation”. No details of the ‘agreement’ was provided by the Chinese foreign office spokesperson when Easternlink pressed her for the same.    “Through diplomatic and military channels, China and India have recently succeeded […]

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China on Wednesday said “actions” were afoot from both sides in line with an “agreement” reached with India to “ameliorate the border situation”.

No details of the ‘agreement’ was provided by the Chinese foreign office spokesperson when Easternlink pressed her for the same. 

  “Through diplomatic and military channels, China and India have recently succeeded in making effective communication and reached agreement on properly handling (emphasis :EL) the situation in the west section of the China-India boundary. At present, the two sides are taking actions in line with the agreement to ameliorate the border situation,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in Beijing .     

On Wednesday, Indian and Chinese commanders held a major general-level dialogue which was a follow-up to the talks held on June 6. A series of such dialogues at brigadier and colonel-level are expected throughout the week as both armies seek to de-escalate the tense stand-off lasting for more than forty days now. 

  This was echoed by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson at her briefing in Beijing.  “Both sides agree to implement the important consensus of the two leaders, avoid escalation of differences into disputes, work together to uphold peace and tranquillity in the border area, and create favourable atmosphere for the sound and stable development of bilateral relations,” said Hua.  

This was the first official statement from either country that there had been some de-escalation on the ground in eastern Ladakh following talks between the two sides. However, the Chinese side did not provide any detail on the “actions” it said the “two sides” had taken at the border.

Military sources had earlier stated that the density of Chinese troops at Galwan and Hot Springs had come down from Monday, which was reciprocated by India but thatthere had been no change in status at Pangong Tso, where Chinese troops are on India’s side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

 “The talks were productive as both sides exchanged views in a positive atmosphere. Both the armies are committed to end the row through talks,” a senior military official was quoted by PTI as saying.

After Saturday’s talks,the Indian press statement did not give any indication of an “agreement” on gradual dis-engagement. 

India had reiterated that the two sides “agreed” on the need to resolve the situation peacefully in line with various bilateral agreements and the guidance of the leadership to maintain peace and tranquillity on the India-China border regions.

But no official statement from India was issued on these de-escalatory moves.

Several other rounds of talks among the militaries are expected to take place in the coming days at the border.

However, there are no signs that China is willing to retract its troops from the area up to Finger 4 in Pangong Tso area , which is well within the territory claimed by India. 

It was at Pangong Tso that Indian and Chinese soldiers had come to blows on May 5, along with a similar brawl in Naku La in Sikkim on May 9 .

Those brawls fought like village clashes in South Asia are  shaped the tense stand-off with both armies moving their heavy weapons and armour close to the LAC before the de-escalatory moves were kicked off at both military and diplomatic levels.

India has sought a restoration of the status quo ante before the first detection of Chinese troops at Galwan, with the vacation of soldiers from the finger region in Pangong Tso being a top priority.

Galwan is considered strategically significant as the valley into which Chinese soldiers have reportedly entered and erected structures flanks the road to Daulat beg Oldi, the last point on the Indian side before the Karakoram Pass, which marks the border with China.

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China’s New Commander For Indian Border https://theeasternlink.com/chinas-new-commander-for-indian-border/ https://theeasternlink.com/chinas-new-commander-for-indian-border/#respond Thu, 11 Jun 2020 06:36:04 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4851

Wang Xiaofeng, Beijing & Roopa Debroy, Delhi China has appointed a new military general , Lt General Xu Qiling , for commanding forces on the Indian border, as the two armies are locked in a tortuous stand-off for the last forty-odd days.The new appointment has now been confirmed — Lieutenant General Xu Qiling will be the […]

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Wang Xiaofeng, Beijing & Roopa Debroy, Delhi

China has appointed a new military general , Lt General Xu Qiling , for commanding forces on the Indian border, as the two armies are locked in a tortuous stand-off for the last forty-odd days.
The new appointment has now been confirmed — Lieutenant General Xu Qiling will be the new commander of the PLA Western Theater Command Ground Force (Army).

Xu Qiling has been Commander of the Eastern Theater Command Ground Force since December 2018, and has formerly served as Commander of the 79th Group Army.

Xu , born in Huaiyang DistrictZhoukouHenan in July 1963, has served in Jinan Military Region for a long time before serving as Commander of the 83rd Group Army. He was in charge of the Central Theater Command in 2016-17,  after which he was appointed Commander of the 79th Group Army. He rose to become Commander of the Eastern Theater Command Ground Force in December 2018, replacing Qin Weijiang. On December 11, 2019, he was awarded the military rank of lieutenant general (zhongjiang) by Central Military Commission chairman President Xi Jinping.He was a delegate to the 13th National People’s Congress.

Lt Gen Xu will report to General Zhao Zongqi, who is overall commander of the Western Theater Command and oversees all forces there, including the Ground Force or Army, Air Force and Rocket Force. The command is responsible for the India border and is the biggest of five theater commands. Theater commands are usually headed by generals.

Gen. Zhao was also the Western Theater Commander during the 2017 Doklam stand-off. In October 2017, he was also appointed to the Communist Party’s 19th Central Committee.
Gen. Zhao’s counterpart in the Eastern Theater Command, General He Weidong, was previously in charge of the PLA’s Ground Forces in the west, before his promotion in January to head the entire Eastern Theater Command.
Lt. Gen Xu’s appointment can be thought of a lateral move, as he previously held the same position in the Eastern Theater Command as Commander of its Ground Forces.
Indian and Chinese forces have been in stand-offs along the LAC at Ladakh since early May.  The June 6 talks between 14Corps commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh and Southern Xinjiang Military district commander Maj-Gen Liu Lin has broken some ice and some pullback by both armies from three of the four contested positions have been reported. 
“The fact of the matter is some kind of planning has gone through before these multiple face-offs,” said Lt Gen (retd) S.L. Narasimhan, Member, National Security Advisory Board. “Earlier, they used to take place in one place. This time there have been multiple face-offs and geographically spaced out, in Sikkim, Pangong Tso and Galwan. The kind of numbers we see is also not what we saw earlier, and the aggression has been more than normal.”
“Normal face-offs happen every year, they don’t lead to these kind of incidents,” added Lt Gen (retd) D.S. Hooda, former Northern Army Commander. “This is much more serious. They have come completely well prepared and prepared to do things by force. We have never seen this level of violence.”
The Western Theater Command will be the point of responsibility for managing the situation, and Lt Gen Xu and Gen Zhao are likely to be involved in the decision-making.
Only in January, India’s then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh headed a delegation to China, and met with Gen Zhao at the command’s headquarters in Chengdu in a visit aimed at improving communication between the militaries. Singh was replaced by Lt Gen Yogesh Joshi . lt Gen Harinder Singh was the previous Director-General Military Intelligence (DGMI) before he took charge of the Udhapur-based 14th Corps.

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Troop Pullback Starts In Ladakh https://theeasternlink.com/troop-pullback-starts-in-ladakh/ https://theeasternlink.com/troop-pullback-starts-in-ladakh/#respond Wed, 10 Jun 2020 04:02:56 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4810

Indian and Chinese armies have pulled back their artillery guns, armoured vehicles and concentrated troop formations  “by about 1 to 2 km” at three of the four points of  confrontation in Ladakh, military sources said. “The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has withdrawn around 20-25 armoured vehicles , but we expect them to withdraw more, because their […]

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Indian and Chinese armies have pulled back their artillery guns, armoured vehicles and concentrated troop formations  “by about 1 to 2 km” at three of the four points of  confrontation in Ladakh, military sources said. 
“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has withdrawn around 20-25 armoured vehicles , but we expect them to withdraw more, because their force and armour concentration was much thicker than ours,”  said a top Indian military source. ” They intruded into these areas much before we did . Our response was merely defensive.”

Chinese troops had intruded up to 3 km across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at these four sites in late-April to early-May. 
As tension mounted and the Indian army responded with forward patrols confronting them, the PLA boosted by deploying 5,000-7,000 additional troops backed by latest Type 15  tanks and artillery guns in the “rear areas” in their own area. 
The spiral continued with the Indian army also matching the Chinese build-up.
” A broad agreement emerged  at the June 6 senior commanders meeting at Moldoh  to disengage peacefully from Galwan and Gogra-Hot Springs area. But the actual modalities will have to be worked out in future meetings,” said a senior officer. 
He described the present pullback since early this week as ‘goodwill gestures’ by both armies to indicate their desire for peaceful resolution of the crisis.
A dialogue at the major-general level is likely on Thursday. Restoration of status quo ante at pre-April positions as demanded by India is not a done deal yet, but it is now possible,” the senior  officer said on condition of anonymity. 
The real heat is over the face-off at Pangong Tso, where the LAC runs north to south from ‘Finger 2’ to ‘Finger-8’ where both sides are unwilling to step down from their stated positions.
The senior officer told Easternlink that another meeting  between 14 Corps commander Lt-General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin may needed to break the ice over Pangong Tso.
The June 6 meeting led to the Confidence Building Measures or CBMs involving “partial withdrawal” of forces by both sides, even as diplomatic channels are working to resolve the 40-day face-off by addressing broader issues.
The military-diplomatic conflict resolution process has picked up ‘steam and direction’ with China increasingly realising that the loudmouth rhetoric of retaking Aksai Chin by Home Minister Amit Shah was ‘election posturing’ and nothing more.
At both military and diplomatic levels, India has consistently emphasized the sanctity of the LAC status quo and its intent to retain it.
“The Chinese at both levels now realise we don’t want to upset the applecart and that our road-bridge building is more defensive and not offensive purposes,” a top MEA source said.
Often wrong perceptions lead to conflict but India and China seem to have displayed maturity at both levels to pull back from the brink, despite domestic jingoism on both sides.

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China, India defusing Ladakh stand-off https://theeasternlink.com/china-india-defusing-ladakh-stand-off/ https://theeasternlink.com/china-india-defusing-ladakh-stand-off/#respond Mon, 08 Jun 2020 10:09:20 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4727

ndian and Chinese military commanders met over the weekend to try to resolve a bitter standoff along their disputed frontier high in the Himalayas where thousands of troops on both sides are facing off. The meeting at a border post was attended by senior commanders and was the highest-level encounter so far. Local border commanders […]

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ndian and Chinese military commanders met over the weekend to try to resolve a bitter standoff along their disputed frontier high in the Himalayas where thousands of troops on both sides are facing off.

The meeting at a border post was attended by senior commanders and was the highest-level encounter so far. Local border commanders held a series of meetings in the past month but failed to break the impasse.

On Friday, Indian and Chinese foreign ministry officials discussed the border tensions.

This combination of two satellite photos of the Ngari Günsa civil-military airport base taken on April 1, left, and May 17, 2020, near the border with India in far western region of Tibet in China show development around the airport. Tensions along the China-India border high in the Himalayas have flared again in recent weeks.
This combination of two satellite photos of the Ngari Günsa civil-military airport base taken on April 1, left, and May 17, 2020, near the border with India in far western region of Tibet in China show development around the airport. Tensions along the China-India border high in the Himalayas have flared again in recent weeks. (AP / Planet Labs)

There were no immediate details available on Saturday’s meeting. Both India and China have provided little official information on the standoff, but media in the two countries have closely covered the escalating tensions.

Indian officials say the standoff began in early May when large contingents of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three places in Ladakh, erecting tents and posts.

They said the Chinese soldiers ignored repeated verbal warnings to leave, triggering shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights.

India also mobilised thousands of soldiers.

Chinese and Indian soldiers also faced off along the frontier in India’s northeastern Sikkim state in early May.

China has sought to downplay the confrontation while saying the two sides were communicating through both their front-line military units and their respective embassies to resolve issues.

Experts in India cautioned that there was little expectation of any immediate resolution in the military meeting.

In the past, most disputes between China and India have been resolved quickly through such meetings, although some required diplomatic intervention.

Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, who retired as head of the Indian military’s Northern Command, under which Kashmir and Ladakh fall, said the negotiations are going to be “long and hard.”

“There won’t be much headway at military-level talks in terms of resolving the issue. But the military-level talks will help deescalate tensions on the ground and set a stage for diplomatic negotiations,” Hooda said.

Though skirmishes aren’t new along their long-disputed frontier, the standoff at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China, has escalated in recent weeks.

The Chinese “ingress into the Galwan River valley opens up a new and worrying chapter,” Ajai Shukla, a former Indian military officer and a defence commentator, wrote on his website.

India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory while separating it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019.

In this image taken from a recent video footage run by China's CCTV on Friday, Aug 4, 2017 via AP Video, artillery guns fire during a live-fire drill by the Chinese army in China's Tibet Autonomous Region that border India.
In this image taken from a recent video footage run by China’s CCTV on Friday, Aug 4, 2017 via AP Video, artillery guns fire during a live-fire drill by the Chinese army in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region that border India. (AP / CCTV)
In this image taken from a recent video footage run by China's CCTV on Friday, Aug 4, 2017 via AP Video, a rocket is launched during a live-fire drill by the Chinese army in China's Tibet Autonomous Region that border India. Beijing is intensifying its warnings to Indian troops to get out of a contested region high in the Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet
In this image taken from a recent video footage run by China’s CCTV on Friday, Aug 4, 2017 via AP Video, a rocket is launched during a live-fire drill by the Chinese army in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region that border India. Beijing is intensifying its warnings to Indian troops to get out of a contested region high in the Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet (AP / CCTV)

China was among the handful of countries to strongly condemn the move, raising it at international forums including the UN Security Council.

The China-India border dispute covers nearly 3,500 kilometres of frontier that the two countries call the Line of Actual Control.

They fought a bitter war in 1962 that spilled into Ladakh. The two sides have been trying since the early 1990s to settle their dispute without success.

The most serious dispute is over China’s claims that India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh is part of Tibet, which India rejects.

China claims about 90,000 square kilometres of territory in India’s northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas, a contiguous part of the Ladakh region.

Hooda said the level of physical violence in the current standoff is “unprecedented and different from the past.”

“The tensest of standoffs between soldiers of the two sides in the past have been marked by a remarkable degree of restraint and an understanding of not using force,” he said.

“If this restraint breaks down, each transgression could become a flash point.”

With AP
Courtesy – 9News

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India can match China in High Himalayas https://theeasternlink.com/india-can-match-china-in-high-himalayas/ https://theeasternlink.com/india-can-match-china-in-high-himalayas/#respond Mon, 08 Jun 2020 04:17:17 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4700

While China indeed is cunning and dangerous, India isn’t Hong Kong rather it is more than a match for China. India is an ascendant power today and its military is highly professional, mobile and modernising at a rapid pace. That apart, Indian Navy conducts regular patrols in the South China Sea, sometimes alone, sometimes with […]

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While China indeed is cunning and dangerous, India isn’t Hong Kong rather it is more than a match for China. India is an ascendant power today and its military is highly professional, mobile and modernising at a rapid pace. That apart, Indian Navy conducts regular patrols in the South China Sea, sometimes alone, sometimes with the navies of the US and Japan

While the dragon is indeed cunning and dangerous, India isn’t Hong Kong. The assertion of fake news peddlers that India will face another 1962 is laughable. For, they – as well as the Chinese – have conveniently forgotten that since that conflict nearly 58 years ago it is China that has suffered defeats, at the hands of India, Russia and Vietnam in that order. In fact, in 2017 in Doklam, when the PLA faced off against the Indian Army, it had to endure the ignominy of a humiliating climb down.

But first, a reality checks. The 1962 defeat happened because of two reasons. One, wedded to Gandhian policies, the political leadership under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru refused to provide the Indian Army the divisions and weapons for the defence of the Himalayan border. To illustrate, when the Chinese invaded, an entire Indian brigade (of at least 2,000 troops) was equipped with just 100 rounds of ammunition and no grenades. Nehru and his arrogant sidekick, Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon, kept up the pretense that China would not attack thereby playing the role of useful idiots for the communists.

Secondly, India’s armed forces were not allowed to fight to their full potential. Ignoring his commanders, Nehru conferred with American ambassador John Kenneth Galbriath who advised him not to use the Indian Air Force against the Chinese intruders. Before the war, the Nehru-Menon duopoly had ended the career of Korean War hero General Thimayya – who very early on saw the Chinese as a threat to India. They later promoted the cowardly Lt General BM Kaul and the incompetent army chief, General Pran Nath Thapar. These officers literally did not know where the border was.

However, with Nehru and Menon’s exit, the era of the neglect of the defence forces ended to some extent. The impressive showing of the Indian Army in the 1965 War with Pakistan restored some pride. Russian and American military supplies boosted military strength. In the subsequent conflicts, the Chinese discovered that the Indian military was not the same as in 1962.

While evaluating the Chinese threat, it needs to be noted that the Chinese are not exactly known for their fighting skills. The PLA may be the world’s largest army but it has performed atrociously in a series of major conflicts. In particular, the Japanese have regularly trounced China for centuries, with the last defeat, in World War II, leaving a huge scar in the Chinese collective memory.

This article examines four of China’s post-1962 conflicts and how the PLA fared against well-armed and professional armies.

Year: 1967
Opponent: India
Conflict: Nathu La and Cho La
Result: Chinese defeat
Dead: PLA 340, Indian Army 65

On September 7, 1967 a PLA commissar asked the soldiers of 18 Rajput to stop fencing the border at the Nathu La border pass in Sikkim, which back then was an Indian protectorate. When the soldiers refused, the Chinese launched an artillery attack. Unlike in 1962, this time the Indian Army was prepared – it had placed howitzers at strategic locations aimed at Chinese military positions. The Indian guns launched a withering counter attack that stopped only after three days. Indian gunners scored several direct hits on enemy bunkers, including a command post from where the Chinese operations were being directed. After the battle the Chinese side of the border resembled Swiss cheese, with the warzone littered with dead PLA soldiers. On September 13, India announced a unilateral ceasefire–a fitting reply to China’s ceasefire offer exactly 25 years earlier.

Smarting under their humiliation, on October 1 the Chinese launched a second attack at the nearby Cho La pass. This time it was men of the Gorkha Regiment who engaged in close-quarter combat killing 40 elite Chinese commandos resulting in a massive PLA rout. However, the Indian Army needlessly withheld fire on their retreating enemy (a suicidal Hindu tradition that is well past its use by date). The defeated Chinese left Sikkim and withdrew three km from the border. Since then Nathu La and Cho La have been under Indian control, and China has never claimed these passes.

Year: 1969
Opponent: Russia
Conflict: Ussuri River Clash
Result: Chinese defeat
Dead: PLA 800, Soviet Army 61

At 4,380 km, the Russia-China land border is the world’s longest, but since Tsarist times it had been poorly demarcated, with both countries having overlapping claims. In the 1960s, following the ideological split between the two communist allies, the border became a flashpoint with 658,000 Soviet soldiers facing nearly a million PLA troops. In March 1969, 61 Soviet soldiers died in a Chinese ambush, and their corpses were mutilated. The Russians hit back so hard that, in the words of the CIA Director at the time, the Chinese side of the river bank was pockmarked like a moonscape. The Chinese death toll: over 800, with hundreds more injured.

The Chinese stab in the back made the Russians so pissed that they seriously planed to nuke China. A Russian military attache secretly asked his US counterpart how the Americans would react to a Russian nuclear attack on Chinese military targets. Washington was half hoping that the Russians would eliminate the Chinese threat – and their madman communist leader Mao Zedong – but ultimately the Americans decided that a hostile China on Russia’s border was necessary to keep Moscow off balance.

China narrowly escaped nuclear bombing but it was so traumatised by the disproportionate Russian military response that it immediately started looking for a strategic alliance with the US.

The bottom line: the Russia-China border has remained peaceful ever since.

Year: 1979
Opponent: Vietnam
Conflict: Full scale Chinese invasion
Result: Chinese defeat
Dead: PLA up to 63,000, Vietnamese army 26,000

In 1978 the battle hardened People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) – which had only three years prior defeated the mighty Americans – launched an invasion of Cambodia. The invasion was launched to end the genocide being committed by the US and China backed Pol Pot regime, which had murdered two million of Cambodia’s eight million population.

In order to “teach Hanoi a lesson”, the following year a 200,000-strong Chinese army (the Vietnamese claim the force comprised 600,000 troops) invaded Vietnam. (Interestingly, the invasion took place when India’s Foreign Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was visiting Beijing.) In the 29 day war that ensued, the highly trained VAPN mauled the PLA killing up to 63,000 Chinese soldiers and capturing hundreds.

In his 1985 book ‘Defending China’, Gerald Segal writes that China’s 1979 war against Vietnam was a complete failure: “China failed to force a Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia, failed to end border clashes, failed to cast doubt on the strength of the Soviet power, failed to dispel the image of China as a paper tiger, and failed to draw the United States into an anti-Soviet coalition.”

The chastised Chinese never dared invade tiny Vietnam again. After years of unsuccessful negotiations, a border pact was finally signed between the two countries in 1999.

Year: 1986-87
Opponent: India
Conflict: Sumdorong Chu Standoff
Result: Chinese pullback
Dead: No casualties

In 1986-87 the Chinese did a Kargil on India in Arunachal Pradesh. In 1984 and 1985, the Indian Army had set up camps in the border areas in summer and returned to the plains in winter. When they went back in the summer of 1986, they found the PLA had crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and set up a military camp in the pastures on the banks of the Sumdorong Chu river in Tawang district. Incidentally, this was close to the Thag La ridge, where the two armies had fought a bloody battled in 1962.

With the Chinese refusing to move back and “supreme leader” Deng Xiaoping declaring his intention to teach India “another lesson”, army chief General Krishnaswami Sundarji launched Operation Falcon, airlifting T-72 tanks and BMP armoured personnel carriers to the area, occupying the high ridges overlooking the Chinese positions. It was the exact opposite of the 1962 situation when the Chinese had the higher ground. Both armies were eyeball to eyeball for seven years when in August 1995 the Chinese finally blinked. The Chinese knew if the two armies clashed, 1962 would be reversed.

India is a different beast today

While the Chinese military has made a huge leap forward in terms of quality and firepower, and is also miles ahead of India in weapons development, let’s not forget that India is an ascendant power today. India’s military is highly professional, mobile and modernising at a rapid pace. The Indian Navy conducts regular patrols in the South China Sea, sometimes alone, sometimes with the navies of the US and Japan.

India has also built roads, bridges and tunnels right up to the Tibetan border in order to improve the army’s mobility. And it continues to build infrastructure with several Himalayan highways in the construction or approval stage. This is perhaps the chief reason why China is alarmed and is therefore needling India, and yet Beijing can do precious little about it other than move some troops and vehicles around.

India has deployed plenty of heavy artillery, mountain divisions, BrahMos missiles and Sukhoi fighters stationed near the Himalayan border to prevent the dragon from making any rash moves. India is also a nuclear power with transcontinental range Agni missiles that can flatten Beijing and transform downtown Shanghai into a parking lot. According to reports, New Delhi may have a fissile material stockpile to produce up to 2,600 nuclear bombs. It is in this backdrop that in 2017, Beijing issued an appeal that the Indian Army should “conscientiously withdraw” its troops to end the Doklam standoff.

Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute writes in the National Interest: “Xi Jinping may believe he can digest Hong Kong and crush its freedom spirit, but he will be wrong to believe that India is weak or that the United States – even under the Trump administration -would simply ignore his aggression. Instead, the United States would likely open the floodgates to provide any intelligence and weaponry which India would need to defend itself and bog down China in a morass of Xi’s own making.”

Taming the dragon

For decades Beijing has pursued a strategy of boxing up India in South Asia so that New Delhi is unable to compete the former globally. As strategist Subhash Kapila observes, “China is a compulsive destabiliser of South Asian regional stability and security, with the end aim of keeping India off-balance.”

Beijing will therefore use asymmetric warfare – using client state Pakistan – to keep India down. In this backdrop, New Delhi must adopt a similar gameplan. India’s asymmetric warfare strategy should have the following components:

1. Weaken and destroy Pakistan by supporting independence movements in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakthunkhwa. This will not only further isolate China but also kill a large market for Chinese weapons.

2. Take up the repression of Tibet at global forums such as the United Nations to keep China off-balance internationally.

3. Establish full diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

4. Offer nuclear weapons to Vietnam. This will create a powerful adversary in China’s south and also be payback for Beijing’s role in helping Pakistan develop nukes.

5. Offer military bases to the US. China is in a state of panic at the unprecedented Japanese-American military buildup in the Pacific; US military bases in India will complete the encirclement of the dragon and unhinge the Han leadership. New Delhi has discarded non-alignment; now it should burn its corpse. If Japan, Germany and South Korea can host thousands of American soldiers and still be proud, independent and creative nations, what stops India?

China is basically a coloniser – land shark. It claims the South China Sea as its private lake; it wants all of Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh; it wants the Spratly Islands; it has its covetous eyes on Siberia and the Russian Far East; it has territorial claims against tiny specks on the map such a Cambodia and Laos. The only thing that is truly Chinese but is not claimed by China is the Coronavirus. You get the picture – the dragon is a dangerous beast which must be tackled without much delay.

( Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand based defence analyst)

Courtesy – Raksha-anirveda

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Ladakh Talks ‘Inconclusive But Positive’ https://theeasternlink.com/ladakh-talks-inconclusive-but-positive/ https://theeasternlink.com/ladakh-talks-inconclusive-but-positive/#respond Sat, 06 Jun 2020 14:23:42 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4658

India and Chinese commanders met for a senior level  meeting on Saturday but failed to achieve an immediate breakthrough to the month-long Ladakh stand-off .The Indian delegation was led by Lt General Harinder Singh, the general officer commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, while the Chinese side was headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military […]

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India and Chinese commanders met for a senior level  meeting on Saturday but failed to achieve an immediate breakthrough to the month-long Ladakh stand-off .
The Indian delegation was led by Lt General Harinder Singh, the general officer commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, while the Chinese side was headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military District. 
The meeting was scheduled to be held at 8:30 am at Moldo border meeting point  inside Chinese territory opposite Chushul but was delayed to 11:30 am. 
The meeting went on for more than four hours after which the commanders returned to their bases to inform their higher commanders.
A detailed report on the proceedings have already reached by Indian Army Chief General M M Navarane.
Top sources said that Indian delegation strongly pressed  for a ‘restoration of pre-April status quo’ in the whole Ladakh sector , a pull back of heavy weaponry and troops from areas where the Chinese intrusions have taken place and ensuring a climate of trust and peace .
The Chinese delegation pressed for stopping  of Indian road building programmes in the region which they described as ‘defence infrastructure ‘ but the Indian commanders insisted the roads were being built inside Indian territory far away from the disputed zone.
” Defence Infrastructure yes, but we have a right to build that in our own territory. You have done that already on your area, why are you stopping us now, it is to defend our area,” the Chinese were clearly told.
Both sides say the meeting was ‘ positive but inconclusive ‘ and pointed out more meetings at higher level were on cards.

The meeting comes a day after Indian and Chinese ambassadors joined a video call between diplomats of their border working mechanism on Friday to underline that “the two sides should handle their differences through peaceful discussion” and “not allow them to become disputes”.
In keeping with military niceties, the Chinese allowed the Indian side to make the first submission. 
The Indians began by asking both sides to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border, and to adhere to protocols and agreements signed by the two countries since 1993.
The Chinese agreed and later responded to the Indian request for restoration of pre-April status quo by insisting the Indian ‘extensive defence infrastructure development’ must stop.
Meanwhile, an analysis of high-resolution satellite images of the Pangong Tso area in Ladakh shows that not only have the Chinese changed the status quo at the Fingers, the mountain spurs along the lake, but also built “substantial” structures in the contested region of the Line of Actual Control, reports ‘Indian Express’.

Colonel S Dinny, who was commanding officer of an Indian Army battalion at Pangong Tso between 2015 and 2017, told The Indian Express after looking at satellite images from May 27 that the structures were not there earlier.
“That definitely was not there before. It is not a normal thing that goes on between Finger 4 and Finger 8. It is what we call a change in status quo in the disputed area.”
Nearly six years ago, the last major standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies in Ladakh was resolved peacefully through military and diplomatic talks. 
As is happening now, the talks at the military level were held in Ladakh while the diplomatic discussion took place in Beijing. The diplomatic conferencing now is virtual due to Covid pandemic.

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