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Indian envoy to China Vikram Misri sets stage for next round of Sino

Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri’s back-to-back meetings in Beijing last week on the prevailing tensions in Pangong Tso and Depsang Plains along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have set the stage for next round of dialogue between the military commanders and diplomats of the two countries.

China remains adamant on its position on Pangong and Depsang, even as Misri held intense rounds of dialogue with the party and military officials. Misri’s engagements are likely to give direction to the next round of technical-level talks between the two neighbours.

During last Friday’s talks between Misri and PLA Major General Ci Guowei (director of the CMC’s Office of International Military Cooperation), the Chinese side echoed the views expressed by the Chinese diplomats earlier.

Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong has said that India was “responsible for crossing the Line of Actual Control but the temperature is now coming down”. But, in reality, the Chinese army is present on Indian side of the LAC on the northern bank of Pangong Tso and continues to obstruct India’s patrolling in the Depsang Plains, according to officials.

The Chinese have also not diluted their build-up in other areas, they said. Misri briefed Ci on “India’s stance vis-à-vis the situation on the borders in eastern Ladakh”, according to the Indian Embassy in Beijing.

Misri’s outreach to CMC and the meeting with Liu Jianchaou, deputy director of the office of the CPC central committee foreign affairs commission, came against the backdrop of the five rounds of corps commanderlevel talks not making any headway due to PLA’s intransigence. The Depsang situation was discussed at major general-level talks on August 8.

India and China remain engaged through both diplomatic and military channels to ensure complete disengagement. This is in accordance with the agreement of the Special Representatives of India and China that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas in accordance with bilateral agreement and protocols and full restoration of peace and tranquility was essential for the smooth overall development of bilateral relations, officials said.

Several meetings of WMCC led by the two Foreign Ministries have discussed the implementation of the ongoing disengagement process and further steps to ensure it is completed at the earliest. Further meetings at both military as well as diplomatic level are likely to happen in the near future, MEA spokesperson announced on Friday.

There are indications that China wants to hold meetings at the level of political leadership as a way forward. Foreign Ministers, NSAs and leaders of the two sides will be part of SCO meets and Summit in September and October in Russia. But it is not clear if respective Ministers and leaders will hold standalone bilateral interactions on the sidelines of the SCO meetings. The second round of the Special Representatives meeting planned at the end of July, after their first dialogue early June,has been delayed due to the slow pace of the disengagement process.

The current impasse in Ladakh is likely to be a prolonged affair with the Chinese side continuing to blame Indian troops for ‘adventurism that seriously violated agreements on border issues’ and Indian side rightly demanding complete disengagement along the India-China border areas. The current dialogues at the military and diplomatic levels are unlikely to yield results.President Xi Jinping would like a summit level meet and later project that India agreed to vacate the Chinese areas to justify his stance to the domestic audience. However, world-over anti-Chinese sentiments are increasing and the Chinese actions in Hong Kong as also in Xinjiang may compel China to change its approach. The Chinese action in Ladakh was aimed at changing the status quo and now a reset in India-China ties is inevitable and necessary,” former Deputy NSA S D Pradhan told ET.

The complexities of the current impasse were explained by Misri in his address at Beijing’s India House on the occasion of Independence Day. “Indians both in the country and in China are facing the twin challenges of a pandemic and aggression at the border. Citizens have to be united to face the challenge. Referring to the twin challenges, Misri said facing up to them would require both effort and sacrifices.