India-China working on mechanism to hold crucial military level talks
New Delhi, Jan 01: China and India are in consultations to hold the ninth round of military level talks, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Sr. Colonel Tan Kefei said.
Tan said that the two sides have maintained consultations on disengagement of frontline troops and also strengthened the management of the border troops. China is willing to maintain communication with India through military and diplomatic channels he also said. He also added that the border area is generally stable.
This round of talks is extremely crucial as both sides are likely to work out written disengagement and de-escalation agreement. When asked as to what could be delaying the talks, officials familiar with the developments said that it could be due to the change in guard on the Chinese side with a newly appointed PLA Western Theatre Commander General Zhang Xudong. He took over from General Zhao Zongqi on December 21. General Zhao is said to be the architect of the 2017 Doklam standoff and also the one in Eastern Ladakh in May 2020.
The official cited above said that General Zhang, who has never served on the Indian border would give the green signal for the talks once his military familiarisation along the Line of Actual Control is complete.
General Zhao took over the Western Theatre Command in 2016. He was already on an extended term that year after reaching the retirement age of 65. He was however allowed to continue in the post by President Xi Jinping. General Zhao a member of the Communist Party's Central Committee is said to have been eyeing for a seat on the Central Military Commission that would allow him to serve up to the age of 72.
Zhang on the other hand would be serving along the Indian border for the first time. He is not a member of the Central Committee or the National People's Congress and neither does have any political exposure.
Resuming diplomatic talks on their military standoff, India and China had on December 21 agreed to continue working towards ensuring complete disengagement of troops in all friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh at the earliest.
At the virtual talks, the two sides agreed that the next round of military dialogue should be held at an early date so that they can work towards an early and complete disengagement of troops in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols, the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) said.
The talks were held under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs.
The MEA said the two sides reviewed the developments along the LAC since the last round of the WMCC talks held on September 30. The military standoff erupted in early May.
'The two sides agreed that based on the guidance provided by senior leaders and the agreements reached between the two Foreign Ministers and Special Representatives, they would continue to work towards ensuring complete disengagement in all friction points along the LAC in the Western sector at the earliest,' it said in a statement.