Will have positive significance for resolution of the incidents occurring at the border currently
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Defense Ministers meeting held in Moscow. According to reports, on the evening of the 4th, the Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe, who attended the meeting of SCO Defense Ministers, held a meeting with Indian Defense Minister Singh. The meeting has drawn huge attention from the outside world in the background of the days-long military standoff underway at the China-India border. According to the Indian media, the meeting is the first face-to-face encounter between the highest-ranking leaders of the two sides since June, when fierce clashes erupted in the Galwan Valley, and will have a positive impact on the resolution of the current border standoff.
While the outside world is highly concerned about the Sino-Indian Defense Ministerial meeting, the Indian media quoted “sources” said a meeting with the Chinese Defense Minister was not on Singh’s agenda, or that a Sino-Indian Defense Ministers’ Moscow meeting will be “difficult”. It is noteworthy that the Hindustan Times quoted “familiar with Moscow and New Delhi sources” said the meeting was to be arranged at the joint request of both sides. The previous Indian media said that the meeting was held at the request of the Chinese Defense Minister.
The report said, as the Sino-Indian border standoff continues to heat up, India’s senior officials have released a series of important signals calling for “de-escalation”. According to India Today it was reported that India’s Foreign Minister Jaishankar said on September 3 that in order to resolve the impasse on the LAC on the China-India border, the priority is to reach a settlement with China through diplomatic channels. “The two sides should not change the status quo on the border, and what is happening at the moment will have an impact on China-India relations.” Jaishankar confirmed on the same day that he will meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when he attends the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting in Moscow on September 10. He said he has “known Foreign Minister Wang Yi for a long time”, which is why they could have a “reasonable conversation” when they meet next week amid rising tensions between the two countries along the line of physical control on the China-India border.
Indian Army Commander Navarne, who is visiting the Leh area, said on the same day that “we are confident that the issue (of the Sino-Indian standoff) can be completely resolved through negotiations,” according to the Indian Asian News Agency (ANI) on 4 September. He said India has been in constant communication with China at the military and diplomatic levels and will continue to do so in the future. It is believed that through these talks, “whatever differences will be resolved” and “we will ensure that the status quo will not change and we are capable of safeguarding our interests.”
According to Indian media reports, China and India are also continuing to despatch additional military forces to the border areas between the two countries. India’s New Delhi TV reported on the 4th, that the Indian Army has strengthened its military deployment in the area appropriately after finding a “massive build-up” of China’s tanks and infantry along the actual line of control, and also artillery about 20 kilometers deep. Reportedly, both China and India recently brought in early warning aircraft and air support aircraft. The Indian air force has multiple bases in the north and has deployed a large number of fighter jets, to ensure a check on China’s air activities and to make “correct and appropriate response”.
An anonymous source told the “Huan Qiu Shi Bao” reporter on September 4, that the agenda of the dialogues Singh and Jaishankar will hold with their Chinese counterparts will be in the same vein as the dialogue previously engaged in at the military and diplomatic level but at a significantly higher level. Given the upcoming winter in the confrontation zone, this would be the “perfect and final window” for China and India to ease the current tensions.
Qian Feng, Director of the Research Department of the National Institute for Strategic Studies at Tsinghua University, said in an interview with the Huan Qiu Shi Bao on September 4 that the meeting between China and India’s Defense Ministers will be the highest-level meeting between the leaders of the Defense Departments of the two countries since the border standoff and conflict, and the first face-to-face meeting between these highest-level officials of the two countries. The meeting of the Defense Ministers will strengthen communication between the two sides at the level of defense establishments, control the border situation, prevent the recent escalation of the new confrontation on the Southern shore of Lake Pangong into a conflict and is undoubtedly beneficial and conducive for the next step of promoting resolution of the confrontation. But it may not be realistic to expect that they can finally solve the problem at this meeting. Qian believes that both sides will explain their respective positions and concerns during the meeting, while also reiterating their previous consensus to maintain border stability and ensure that the dispute does not escalate into a conflict.
On the comment made by some Indian media that “the Chinese side took the initiative to request for talks” and that “the Indian Defense Ministers have no plans to meet,” Qian said, “As far as we know from the relevant departments of the Chinese side, the Indian media reports are mostly serious in their reporting of details but there are also misrepresentations, many to satisfy nationalist sentiments in India. Much of the information is deliberately leaked by sources within the Indian officialdom. Their intention is nothing more than to showcase the ‘tough’ posture of the Government and the military in the matter of national security.”