No joint statement from latest China-India military talks indicates challenges in full disengagement: experts
Published: Apr 11, 2021 01:07 PM
China India Photo: Xinhua

China India Photo: Xinhua

Nearly two months after the last round of corps commander-level talks, the Chinese and Indian militaries held the 11th round of the meeting on Friday, with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theater Command releasing a statement on Saturday.

This is unlike the previous rounds of meetings, Chinese experts pointed out on Sunday, noting that no joint statements were issued, and the statement from China was issued by the PLA Western Theater Command instead of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, which are signs that solving the remaining issues will be challenging for both sides.

The Chinese and Indian militaries held the 11th round of corps commander-level meeting at the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point Indian side on Friday, in which both sides exchanged views on issues of mutual concern, and confirmed that both sides will maintain military and diplomatic contact, said Senior Colonel Long Shaohua, a spokesperson at the PLA Western Theater Command, in a statement on Saturday.

"We hope India can treasure the current positive situation of de-escalation in China-India border regions, abide by related agreements reached by the two countries and the two militaries in previous meetings, meet China halfway and safeguard peace and stability in border regions together," Long said.

On the same day, India's Ministry of External Affairs also released a statement, saying that the two sides held a detailed exchange of views for the resolution of the remaining issues related to disengagement, and agreed on the need to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols.

Completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for the two sides to consider de-escalation of forces and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquility and enable progress in bilateral relations, the Indian statement reads. "They also agreed to jointly maintain stability on the ground, avoid any new incidents and jointly maintain peace in the border areas."

The 10th round of corps commander-level meetings was held on February 20, as the two sides positively assessed the disengagement process of frontline troops in the Pangong Tso region, which started on February 10. It was said that solving other issues was to be the focus in future meetings.

Compared with previous rounds of meetings, the 11th round has two new changes, observers said. The previous issuer of Chinese statements was the Chinese Defense Ministry, while this time it was the PLA Western Theater Command spokesperson, and from the 6th round of meeting in September 2020, China and India had all released joint statements, but this time no joint statement was released.

This indicated that the latest meeting did not result in an agreement of a full disengagement in other areas as expected, and the statement showed China's dissatisfaction and concerns over the slow development of the current situation, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

This indicated that it could be challenging to solve remaining issues, Qian said.

Chinese and Indian border defense troops have seen confrontations in border regions in spring and summer in recent years, and as the temperature picks up and troops are still not disengaged in other regions, the momentum of de-escalation could be impacted, Qian said, noting that some Indians have a delusion of colluding with the US, particularly with the US military, over the border dispute and playing "smart" despite reaching agreements, and this kind of move could damage the restoration of military trust between China and India.

On the positive side, the statement also showed China and India are still in communication on both military and diplomatic levels, and the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso have not seen a further rise in tension for now, Qian said.