India, China armies cower before approaching General Winter

The mood during the military talks on Monday and Tuesday was ‘pleasant’

[File] Army trucks move towards Ladakh via the Leh-Manali Highway | PTI [File] Army trucks move towards Ladakh via the Leh-Manali Highway | PTI

The approaching winter with its characteristic extremities seems to have mellowed down the armies of the two Asian giants—India and China—that are engaged in more than three-year old border faceoff in the eastern Ladakh mountains.

The Line of Actual Control (LAC)—the de facto border between the two countries— straddles one of the most inhospitable and difficult stretches on the planet with the average altitude being more than 4,000 metres where oxygen is scarce and winter temperatures plummet up to minus 30-40 degrees centigrade.

On the two days of October 9 and 10, the 20th round of senior military commander level talks took place between teams led by senior commanders of the Indian Army and the PLA at the Chushul-Moldo border point in eastern Ladakh.

On the latest round of talks, a senior source in India’s military establishment told THE WEEK: “While there was a continuation of the ongoing process as far as the talks are concerned, the tone and tenor of the negotiations was very positive and pleasant. While no promises were made, there was mutual agreement and assurance on the need to carry forward the process for a positive outcome.”

While India’s foreign affairs ministry put out a tepid statement on Wednesday, a second military source familiar with the developments said the mood during the talks was one of “understanding”. 

“It is quite encouraging the way things are moving. The issues in the remaining friction areas may be resolved in just one or two more round of talks,” the source added.

Till now, the earlier rounds of talks have resulted in effective disengagement in five of the seven friction areas along the LAC. The disengagement took place first in the Galwan valley in July 2020, followed by Pangong Tso and Kailash ranges in February 2021, and then in Gogra in August 2021 and finally at PP 15 in September 22. The current talks are for the disengagement in the balance friction areas in eastern Ladakh i.e., Depsang and Demchok.

One of the main reasons leading to such cordiality could be the approaching harsh winter which, historically, has resulted in fatalities.

More than 1,20,000 soldiers of the world’s two most populous countries—that together account for more than a third of humanity—have been in active deployment along with their heavy military equipment ever since a series of border brawls broke out between the two sides since April 2020.  

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