The fourth round of corps-level commander negotiations between Indian and Chinese general officers took place on Tuesday. The talks turned into something of a marathon, lasting almost ten hours as both sides worked to finalize the groundwork for a “time-bound and verifiable” disengagement away from all of the potential flashpoint areas in eastern Ladakh. The day’s focus was set on withdrawing large numbers of troops, and weapons from bases along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). China has moved troops 1-2 kilometers away from Pangong Tso and Hot Springs in recent weeks, but the numbers involved has been limited, and the act deemed as purely a symbolic act intended to appear meaningful. Still, India is now looking for a further pullback to 8 kilometers to beyond the Finger 8 point where the LAC runs north to south.
During today’s negotiations, India has insisted on complete restoration of the status quo ante along the border prior to the beginning of the standoff on 5 May. It is unclear if progress was made on this matter, however, it is unlikely that any. Agreeing to India’s demand would negate practically all of China’s efforts since early in May. As the situation stands for the moment, Chinese troops remain encamped on Indian territory. The Indians have made no attempt to remove them by force, opting for diplomacy, and controlled sabre rattling to reestablish the pre-May frontier.
Meanwhile, as India and China work to disengage, the United States is ramping up pressure on China over its actions in the South China Sea. That will be discussed tomorrow.