The Demchok and Depsang Dispute: Where India and China Speak Past One Another

The military talks between China and India on December 20 fell flat since both sides maintained their stances over the Indian Army's right to patrol the Depsang Plains and CNN junction in Demchok. The local commander had separately addressed the Tawang violation on December 11.

The Demchok and Depsang Dispute: Where India and China Speak Past One Another

Last Tuesday's 17th round of the India-China Corps Commander level meeting was a dull affair; no progress was made because the PLA maintained its stance regarding the restoration of Indian Army patrolling rights in the Depsang Plains, south of Daulet Beg Oldi, and the Charding Ninglung Nullah (CNN) junction, south of Demchok in East Ladakh. It is understood that the Indian side discussed de-escalating the deployment of troops, tanks, artillery, and rocket systems that both sides had deployed following the May 2020 belligerence by the PLA troops on Galwan, Gogra-Hot Springs, and the north banks of Pangong Tso, while the Chinese commander discussed normalisation of the East Ladakh LAC. The East Ladakh LAC has been occupied by troops from both sides for three consecutive winters, despite the fact that there has been disengagement on all of these points. As a result, it is possible that there will be a local flare-up followed by a horizontal escalation.

On December 9, 2022, there was no discussion about the PLA's transgression at the Yangtze plateau in the Tawang area because the local commander had already addressed the subject on December 11 in line with the established protocols and it had also been pursued diplomatically. The conflict stretches back to the 1986–1987 Somdorong Chu incident, although the PLA has been intruding into the Yangtze region since the 2008 Tibetan uprising.The commanders of the Indian Corps and the Chinese South Xinjiang Military Region agreed to keep in regular contact in order to ensure security and stability in the western sector, but the PLA remained steadfast in its refusal to find a solution to the Depsang Plains and CNN track junction problems. Both problems predate the Pangong Tso infractions, with the PLA denying the Indian Army the permission to patrol its points 10 to 13 in the Depsang Bulge and in the region of the CNN track junction south of Demchok.At the border meeting, it is understood that the Chinese side maintained its position by asserting that everything was normal while the Indian side kept to its demand for the restoration of patrolling powers in the CNN and Depsang Plains areas. At the discussion, the two sides essentially talked over one another while repeating their respective plans for continued peace and quiet along the East Ladakh LAC. The men and equipment are fully positioned to fend off any onslaught from the other side, despite the fact that the Indian Army troops are imprisoned in the East Ladakh freezing for three winters.The construction of the new highway C-695 and the upcoming construction of a new bridge over the Pangong Tso near the occupied Khurnak Fort region to the east of Sri Jap area have been noted with alarm by the Indian side. To avoid a repeat of the Indian Army's August 29–31, 2020 offensive, the new bridge will allow PLA speedier inter-sector deployments from the south to the north banks of the saltwater lake. It is certain that if the Indian Army hadn't taken control of the Rezang La-Rechin La heights in a gallant August, the PLA would never have evacuated the finger 4 to 8 reliefs from the north banks of Pangong Tso. 

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