Two senior military commanders from India and China who have held three rounds of peace negotiations before will meet again today to accomplish the most challenging task – ensure the withdrawal of Chinese soldiers from eastern Ladakh including Pangong Tso and Depsang.
Lt Gen. Harinder Singh and Maj. Gen. Liu Lin of the Chinese Liberation Army (PLA) will meet after senior diplomats from India and China earlier displayed their resolve to “ensure complete disengagement” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The meeting between top Indian and Chinese commanders will take place in Chushul in Ladakh. The planned tactics to defuse tension are the most complicated yet for the two nations that stand eyeball-to-eyeball in various border areas of Ladakh including Pangong Tso area and in Depsang plains.
Last week, troops of both nations withdrew their troops from three contentious areas —PP (patrolling point) 14,15 and 17A, the move creating a buffer zone of 3-4km depth. This was done to guarantee that soldiers who are separated at some points along the LAC by only 600 metres or less do not clash with each other.
Last week’s disengagement at PP 14, 15 and 17A was comparatively benign, according to experts. They said the tricky part is the pull out of Chinese PLA soldiers from Pangong Tso and the Depsang plains—situated west of PP 14, 15 and 17A.
India has been in control of one-third of Pangong Tso, and the Chinese of the remaining two-thirds for years. In the past China held its position at Finger 8—one of a series of mountain folds extending into the lake—but used to patrol up to Finger 4. India controlled positions up to Finger 4 and used to patrol up to Finger 8.
Tensions between Indian and Chinese soldiers started mounting in May when the Chinese PLA soldiers encroached as far as Finger 4 area. Though there has been some amount of pullback, PLA troops are now in the Indian territory as per experts in New Delhi and need to pull back.