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LAC Standoff: 20th round of military level dialogue fails to end India, China deadlock

The 20th round of India-China Corps Commander negotiations produced no progress, but both parties committed to ensure better communication and maintain peace in the border regions.

On Monday and Tuesday (October 9-10), the meeting took place at the Chushul-Moldo border crossing point on the Indian side.

The most recent round of Corps Commander negotiations took place two months after the 19th session, during which India demanded access to all remaining patrolling posts, including those in Depsang and Demchok.

“Both sides exchanged views in a frank, open, and constructive manner to seek an early and mutually-acceptable resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector. This was done in accordance with the guidance provided by the national leadership of the two countries and building on the progress made in the last round of Corps Commander’s Meeting held on 13-14 August 2023,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday (11 October).

The disengagement of soldiers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and a broader troop de-escalation in the Ladakh region were on the table, according to media sources.

The exchange of patrol information to avert ground-level conflicts and adherence to current protocol were also important debate topics.

There hasn’t been much movement in previous rounds of negotiations when it comes to dealing with legacy concerns or a thorough troop de-escalation in eastern Ladakh.

After the 19th round of military negotiations in August, both parties called a conference at the Major General level to outline the specifics of the issues covered during the corps commander-level conversations.

Although none of these strategies have been implemented yet, field commanders have been developing plausible scenarios for limited disengagement at mutually agreed-upon locations along the boundary.

Since the military standoff between China and India began in May 2020, there have been four winters in a row.

Both nations started troop withdrawals in September of last year, which resulted in the disengagement from Patrolling Point-15 in the Eastern Ladakh region of Gogra-Hot Springs. This was an important step in de-escalating the military stalemate that began in May 2020.

With the development of the Gogra-Hot Springs region, certain conflict zones, including the Galwan Valley, the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, as well as those areas, have seen some resolution in the previous three years.

Addressing historical flashpoints like the Depsang Plains and Demchok, however, has stalled out. An estimated 50,000–60,000 soldiers are still stationed on either side of the India–China border.