Two years ago, Indian and Chinese troops began withdrawing from the disputed western Himalayan border area as peace talks between senior military officials continued after deadly clashes in 2020. News from The Guardian.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to attend the meeting in Uzbekistan next week. Just before the meeting, reports of military disengagement came from the Gogra-Hot Springs border area.

Both the defense ministries have confirmed that troops are withdrawing from their respective sides in the Gogra-Hot Springs area as a measure to maintain peace and tranquility in the border region. The withdrawal was in accordance with a consensus reached in July during the 16th and most recent round of bilateral talks between top commanders.

The dispute is centered along the Line of Actual Control. This international line divides areas of physical control rather than territorial claims and separates Chinese-controlled and Indian-occupied territories from Ladakh in the west to the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. But China has been claiming the entire border. It is broken near the Chinese border of Nepal and Bhutan.

According to India, the Line of Control is 3,488 km long, while China says it is considerably shorter.

Tensions erupted in June 2020 over a disputed part of the Himalayan border. At least 24 soldiers were killed in the violent clashes. Indian authorities said 20 of their soldiers were killed. On the other hand, Beijing claims that only four Chinese soldiers were killed.

It is the deadliest incident between the two nuclear powers in 50 years. Soldiers also fought hand to hand with sticks and stones during the clash. The two countries also deployed hundreds of thousands of troops along the LAC, supported by artillery, tanks and fighter jets.

Amid persistent claims of Chinese military occupation, top military leaders from both sides have met 16 times for talks and troops have retreated several times. But the two countries have struggled to agree on certain issues and tensions remain.

Brahma Chelani, professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, said the return of peace and tranquility to the border region ‘still seems elusive’.

Chelani, a former member of India’s National Security Advisory Board, said, ‘The latest disengagement agreement deals with the smallest Chinese encroachment in traditional Indian patrol areas. China has so far been reluctant to negotiate with India on its largest and deepest encroachment.’

He further said, ‘China’s covert invasion in April 2020 along the Indian Ladakh border violated all its border-peace agreements with India over the years. Since then, China has been busy building up its military infrastructure and power along the Himalayas. As a result the two countries remain on a war footing along the glacial heights of the Himalayas.’

(September 9)