Citing Indian military sources, The Hindu reported on the 21st that representatives of the Indian and Chinese militaries held the sixth round of military commander-level talks on the morning of the 21st, local time, on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control on the border between the two countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin confirmed at a regular press conference on the afternoon of 21 March that the sixth round of military commander-level talks is underway and that the Chinese side will release relevant information in a timely manner if there’s any He said that China and India have recently maintained close communication on resolving the current border situation through diplomatic and military channels.
Unlike in the past, the Director General of the East Asia Department of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Naveen Srivastava, also attended the talks. This is the first time he has participated in these talks, according to reports in the Indian media. The Hindustan Times reported that previously Indian Defense Ministry officials had also joined the consultation and coordination mechanism on border affairs under the diplomatic framework between the two countries to ensure the success of the talks.
The Indian media quoted official Indian news reports as saying that the Indian side will make clear its demand that “Chinese troops must withdraw from all friction points and set a clear timetable for the withdrawal of personnel and equipment”, “guarantee the withdrawal of military deployments from the Depsang Basin to Pangong Lake area” and “ensure free access of Indian troops to the traditional patrol points for patrolling”. According to Indian government sources, the Indian side would also request the Chinese side “to strictly abide by the limits on the number of troops deployed in the area along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries and other provisions of the border agreements”. The source said the talks are “not only about disengagement”, but also to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future.
India’s PRINT news network quoted defense and security officials as saying that the current round of talks “abandoned the earlier concept of ‘mutual disengagement'” and would be conducted under a new consensus. The official also said that the Chinese side must take the lead in taking steps to disengage before follow up by India “because the Chinese side violated the agreement and intruded into the Indian side of the LAC in the first place”. China’s Foreign Ministry has said many times before that the responsibility for the recent Sino-Indian border developments does not lie with the Chinese side, but with the Indian side for violating agreements and important consensus between the two sides, for illegally crossing the line of provocation, for unilaterally changing the status quo in the border area, and for firing shots threatening the safety of Chinese border guards.
PRINT News also highlighted that the round of talks took place just before the local winter season, and that neither side had deployed troops in temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius and engaged in confrontation hitherto. Reports suggest that the Indian Army was more accustomed to fighting in bitterly cold climatic conditions than the Chinese army. However, some analysts have pointed out that climatic conditions do not determine the outcome of a battle, and that although India has experience in stationing troops at the Siachen glacier during the winter, stationing is a relatively static act, which is obviously cannot settle the argument that Indian troops are more accustomed to fighting in harsh climatic conditions than Chinese troops.
At the same time, the Indian media have not given up playing up the “Indian army is actively preparing for war” argument. According to the Hindustan Times, the Indian Air Force is stepping up deployment of advanced Rafale fighter jets in the “Ladakh region”. The Indian military disclosed that the first five “Rafale” fighter aircraft had been pressed into service in order to gain familiarity with the “Ladakh region” combat environment, comprehensive training in weapons firing and so on.
(The text of the Joint Press Release on the Sixth Round of Military Commander level talks of September 22, 2020 can be seen here.)