NEW DELHI, INDIA — According to an Indian army spokesperson, Indian and Chinese army commanders have discussed measures to remove soldiers from major friction zones along their disputed border to end a 17-month impasse that has occasionally resulted in fatal confrontations.
The commanders met for the first time in two months on Sunday in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Ladakh area, according to army spokesperson Col. Sudhir Chamoli. There was no immediate information provided.
According to a written statement sent by a Chinese military spokeswoman on Monday, “the Indian side continues to make unreasonable and unrealistic demands, complicating the discussions.”
Both India and China have removed soldiers from several face-off areas on the northern and southern banks of the Pangong Tso, Gogra, and Galwan Valley since February, but they have kept extra troops on standby as part of a multi-tier deployment.
According to Indian media sources, more troops have been deployed in Demchok and Depsang Plains.
The meetings occurred as the Indian army commander expressed his displeasure with what he called China’s “massive deployment of soldiers and equipment.”
“Yes, the large-scale buildup has occurred and continues to be a source of worry, and to support that sort of buildup, there has been an equivalent level of infrastructure development on the Chinese side,” said Gen. M.M. Naravane on Saturday.
“This implies that they (China) want to stay. “We’re keeping a careful eye on all of these developments,” he said, “but if they’re here to stay, we’re here to stay as well.”
“China’s commitment to protecting its sovereignty is unshakable, and China hopes India will not misinterpret the situation,” said Senior Col. Long Shaohua of the Western Theater Command in a statement.
Around January, temperatures in Ladakh’s forward parts plunge to 30 degrees below zero Celsius (22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit). Around this time, both sides’ forces used to retire to their regular summer holding positions, but since the commencement of the standoff in May of last year, they have remained close to the disputed boundary.
Both nations have tens of thousands of soldiers stationed along the de facto border known as the Line of Actual Control, backed up by artillery, tanks, and fighter planes. Last year, 20 Indian soldiers were murdered in a border fight with Chinese forces involving clubs, stones, and fists. China has confirmed the loss of four soldiers.
From Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety, the Line of Actual Control divides Chinese and Indian-held territory. In 1962, India and China waged a devastating border war.
The Chinese have been constructing hundreds of huge weather-proof shelters along the LAC in eastern Ladakh for their troops to remain in during the winter since the stalemate began last year. Indian media have also reported about new helipads, wider airstrips, new barracks, new surface-to-air missile positions, and radar stations.