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China talks de-escalation, but PLA keeps up pressure on LAC

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New Delhi: China has signalled a willingness to de-escalate matters on the Line of Actual Control at Saturday’s meeting among top military officials at Chushul, agreeing to hold further conversations among local commanders to find a way to ease tensions. But India remained cautious as reports came in on Sunday that China had beefed up its military presence in the area. The Chinese PLA, according to reports, had moved in an airborne brigade from Hubei province in Central to somewhere near the LAC to further bolster its military buildup. Chinese media outlet Global Times reported that “several thousand soldiers” were moved in “few hours” through this maneuver.

On Sunday in a carefully worded statement, the Ministry of External Affairs stated that “both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements”. India and China have maintained communication through established diplomatic and military channels. “A meeting was held between the Corps Commander based in Leh and the Chinese Commander on 6 June 2020 in the Chushul-Moldo region. It took place in a cordial and positive atmosphere. Both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements and keeping in view the agreement between the leaders that peace and tranquility in the India-China border regions is essential for the overall development of bilateral relations,” according to the statement.

The process to set up meetings among local commanders, sources said, is underway and is expected to materialize soon. New Delhi, however, is clear that it’s not going to dilute its earlier position. India has maintained that all construction activity is happening on its side of the LAC. The Indian delegation on Saturday was led by Lt General Harinder Singh, Commander of 14 Corps, while the Chinese side was headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military District.

On Friday, Joint Secretary-level conversation took place between the MEA and the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Both sides also noted that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and agreed that an early resolution would contribute to the further development of the relationship. Accordingly, the two sides will continue the military and diplomatic engagements to resolve the situation and to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

The present tension in Ladakh between the two sides came into sharp focus in early part of May. Thousands of troops from both sides have been amassed after the PLA intruded at four positions in Galwan, Gogra and Pangong Tso in Ladakh. The India-China boundary covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the areas along the LAC.

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