Senior Colonel Long Shaohua, spokesman for the Western Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, issued a statement on the evening of April 10, saying that on April 9, the Chinese and Indian armies held the 11th round oC talks on the Indian side of the Moldova/Chushul meeting point, where both sides exchanged views on issues of mutual concern and will continue to maintain communication through military-diplomatic channels. “I hope the Indian side will cherish the current positive trend of de-escalation and cooling off in the Sino-Indian border area, adhere to the relevant agreements and agreements between the two militaries and the consensus of the previous talks, move in tandem with the Chinese side and work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border area”. On the same day, the Indian side also issued a statement. Chinese experts interviewed by the Huan Qiu Shi Bao believe that the eleventh round of Sino-Indian military commander level talks did not issue a joint press release as in the past. Nor was the Chinese statement issued by the Ministry of Defense but at the Western Theater Command level, showing from one side that it is still difficult for the two sides to jointly resolve the remaining issues.
The tenth round of India-China military commander-level talks was held on Feb. 20 this year, and both sides gave positive comments on the disengagement of frontline forces in the Pangong Lake area in the early stage, considering it an important progress that provides a basis for resolving other issues in the area around the Line of Actual Control in the western section of the India-China border. The talks began at 10:30 a.m. on the 9th and lasted for about 13 hours, according to the Indian Economic Times of the 10th. The purpose of the talks was to promote the next phase of disengagement between the two armies in other areas of the China-India border.
The Indian military issued a statement on the 10th, saying that the two sides had detailed discussions on disengagement in the remaining areas during the talks and agreed to work together to maintain stability on the ground, avoid any new conflict and quickly resolve outstanding issues. The statement said the completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for the two sides to consider de-escalation of force, ensure a full restoration of peace and tranquility and allow bilateral relations to progress. The Times of India commented on the 10th that the latest talks “did not achieve a breakthrough”. India Today of the 11th said the statement lacked details of progress, suggesting that Friday’s talks were at an impasse.
Beginning in May 2020, a new round of conflicts and confrontations had broken out between the Chinese and Indian forces in the border areas., with casualties occurring on June 15 during clashes between the two armies in the Galwan Valley. Since then, several rounds of army commander-level talks between the two sides have taken place. Compared to the previous rounds, two changes have occurred in the format of news releases after the eleventh round. First, there was a change in the issuer of news — while the Ministry of Defense was the one to issue the news during previous India-China military commander level talks, this time it was a spokesperson of the Western Thaeter Command. In addition, the two sides jointly issued a press release after the sixth round of talks between Indian and Chinese military commanders on September 22, 2020, which was the format used until the tenth round of talks. But the two sides did not issue a joint press release after the latest round of military commander level talks.
Qian Feng, Director of the research department of the National Institute of Strategic Studies at Tsinghua University, told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao on 11 November that the Chinese side’s remarks indicated that the 11th round of military commander-level talks did not reach a consensus on the full disengagement of the troops of the two sides stationed in the remaining areas, as had been widely expected, and that the Chinese side’s dissatisfaction and concern over the slow progress of the current situation was evident between the lines. The fact that the talks did not result in a joint press release as in the past, and that the news was released not by the Ministry of Defense but at the level of the Western Theater Command, is an additional indication that difficulties remain in resolving the remaining issues together.
Qian Feng believes that the Chinese side’s concerns and reminders are not superfluous in the current international and regional situation. In recent years, confrontations between Chinese and Indian border troops on the western border have usually occurred in spring and summer. As temperatures on the plateau continue to rise, any further poor resolution of the withdrawal of troops from the remaining areas will inevitably affect this hard-won stabilization momentum. If some people in India are under the illusion that the recent India-US relationship, especially military cooperation, can bring more “bargaining chips” and strengthened “bottom lines” on the border issue, and do not cherish the efforts made by the two armies previously, or even play “smart” on the issue of consensus reached between the two armies in the early stages, it is undoubtedly not a good idea. That “little smartness”, will surely destroy the still fragile and recovering mutual trust between the two armies.
On the other hand, both sides mentioned in the news released after the meeting that both sides will continue to maintain communication. Qian Feng analysis said, since February 10 this year, China and India reached a consensus on disengagement in the north and south bank areas of Pangong Lake. The fact that the two sides demonstrated willingness and determination to resolve this key issue that was most likely to trigger large-scale military conflict after 10 months of tense confrontation, and chose to take pragmatic action to jointly facilitate significant cooling down of the situation, has been generally recognized by the international community, which has affirmed that “over the past two months, the two sides have continued to maintain communication through military-diplomatic channels around the confrontation in the remaining areas of this border conflict, on the one hand, and implemented and consolidated the previous achievements on the other; and that so far there has been no reheating of the situation in the areas on the northern and southern banks of the Pangong Lake”.