India, China Meet on Frontier Dispute 06/06 09:28
SRINAGAR, India (AP) -- Indian and Chinese military commanders met Saturday
to try to resolve a bitter standoff along their disputed frontier high in the
Himalayas where thousands of troops on both sides are facing off.
The meeting at a border post was attended by senior commanders and was the
highest-level encounter so far. Local border commanders held a series of
meetings in the past month but failed to break the impasse.
On Friday, Indian and Chinese foreign ministry officials discussed the
There were no immediate details available on Saturday's meeting. Both India
and China have provided little official information on the standoff, but media
in the two countries have closely covered the escalating tensions.
Indian officials say the standoff began in early May when large contingents
of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three
places in Ladakh, erecting tents and posts. They said the Chinese soldiers
ignored repeated verbal warnings to leave, triggering shouting matches,
stone-throwing and fistfights.
India also mobilized thousands of soldiers.
Chinese and Indian soldiers also faced off along the frontier in India's
northeastern Sikkim state in early May.
China has sought to downplay the confrontation while saying the two sides
were communicating through both their front-line military units and their
respective embassies to resolve issues.
Experts in India cautioned that there was little expectation of any
immediate resolution in the military meeting. In the past, most disputes
between China and India have been resolved quickly through such meetings,
although some required diplomatic intervention.
Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, who retired as head of the Indian military's Northern
Command, under which Kashmir and Ladakh fall, said the negotiations are going
to be "long and hard."
"There won't be much headway at military-level talks in terms of resolving
the issue. But the military-level talks will help deescalate tensions on the
ground and set a stage for diplomatic negotiations," Hooda said.
Though skirmishes aren't new along their long-disputed frontier, the
standoff at Ladakh's Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road
connecting the region to an airstrip close to China, has escalated in recent
The Chinese "ingress into the Galwan River valley opens up a new and
worrying chapter," Ajai Shukla, a former Indian military officer and a defense
commentator, wrote on his website.
India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory while separating it
from disputed Kashmir in August 2019. China was among the handful of countries
to strongly condemn the move, raising it at international forums including the
U.N. Security Council.
The China-India border dispute covers nearly 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles)
of frontier that the two countries call the Line of Actual Control. They fought
a bitter war in 1962 that spilled into Ladakh. The two sides have been trying
since the early 1990s to settle their dispute without success.
The most serious dispute is over China's claims that India's northeastern
state of Arunachal Pradesh is part of Tibet, which India rejects.
China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of
territory in India's northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square
kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in
the Himalayas, a contiguous part of the Ladakh region.
Hooda said the level of physical violence in the current standoff is
"unprecedented and different from the past."
"The tensest of standoffs between soldiers of the two sides in the past have
been marked by a remarkable degree of restraint and an understanding of not
using force," he said. "If this restraint breaks down, each transgression could
become a flash point."