China study group meets to as­sess LAC talks of Aug 2

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Htbusiness - Shishir Gupta let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: The high-pow­ered China Study Group (CSG) met on Tues­day af­ter­noon to as­sess feed­back from the Au­gust 2 meet­ing of In­dian and Chi­nese mil­i­tary com­man­ders in Moldo Chushul even as ground re­ports in­di­cate that the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) is drag­ging its feet in restor­ing sta­tus quo in eastern Ladakh.

It is un­der­stood that the mil­i­tary com­man­ders’ marathon meet­ing ended in a stale­mate with both sides hold­ing their ground and the PLA com­man­der ask­ing for con­ces­sions for com­plete dis­en­gage­ment.

The CSG will con­vey to the In­dian Army the next steps to be taken on the ground; restora­tion of the pre-April 20 po­si­tions at four fric­tions points in eastern Ladakh is a pr­ereq­ui­site for nor­mal­i­sa­tion of bi­lat­eral ties. The meet­ing was at­tended by the se­nior most min­is­ters and of­fi­cials of the gov­ern­ment.

While the Naren­dra Modi gov­ern­ment re­mains tight-lipped about the Au­gust 2 com­man­ders meet­ing, but a Chi­nese spokesman’s state­ment try­ing to delink the bound­ary prob­lem from over­all bi­lat­eral ties is an in­di­ca­tor that the PLA is re­sist­ing moves to re­store sta­tus quo ante.

“The two (In­dia and China) should place the bound­ary is­sue in a proper po­si­tion in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and make sure dif­fer­ences do not es­ca­late into dis­putes,” the Chi­nese spokesman said.

This is diplo­matic jar­gon for say­ing that bor­der prob­lems and over­all bi­lat­eral ties should be kept on dif­fer­ent, par­al­lel tracks. It comes at a time when In­dia is try­ing to block Bei­jing’s in­flu­ence in core sec­tors of In­dia like telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion and power as well as higher ed­u­ca­tion and me­dia.

This is con­trary to the longheld po­si­tion of the Modi gov­ern­ment that peace and tran­quil­ity on the Line of Ac­tual Con­trol was at the heart of bi­lat­eral ties. The In­dian army, on its part, is pre­pared for a long haul on the bor­der not only to fore­stall fur­ther ag­gres­sion by the PLA in the com­ing months, but also to put pres­sure on it to re­store sta­tus quo ante.

Al­though In­dian and Chi­nese special rep­re­sen­ta­tives on bound­ary talks on July 5 charted out a map for dis­en­gage­ment and then de-es­ca­la­tion, the PLA is drag­ging its feet both at pa­trolling point 17 and 17A (Gen­eral Area Go­gra) and on the fin­ger fea­tures on the banks of the Pan­gong Tso.

On both 17 and Pan­gong Tso, the Chi­nese want the In­dian Army to con­cede some ground de­spite be­ing the first ag­gres­sor in the Go­gra-Hot Springs area. “It is try­ing to im­pose the 1960 map on East Ladakh and claim­ing the PLA new po­si­tions are well within his per­cep­tion of the 1,597 km LAC along oc­cu­pied Ak­sai Chin,” said a se­nior of­fi­cial.

While the In­dian army and the PLA are no longer face to face on any off the four fric­tion points, the Chi­nese are try­ing to po­si­tion them­selves on dom­i­nat­ing heights in or­der to add more depth to their bases in Ak­sai Chin area.

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