The Indian Ministry of Defense said in a joint statement that India and China have completed their withdrawal from the disputed Himalayas border.
The communiqué stated that the soldiers completed their withdrawal from the Bangong Lake area on Saturday (February 20).
However, the communiqué also stated that the situation in other areas of the border between the two countries is still tense, and the talks are expected to continue.
In June last year, soldiers from China and India clashed in the border area of the Kalwan Valley, resulting in the death of at least 24 soldiers. China and India announced their withdrawal from the Bangong Lake area on February 11, and the two sides held the tenth round of military commander-level talks on Saturday (February 20) to assess the progress of the operation. Both parties stated that they will manage conflicts in some conflict areas or around the line of actual control.
The Chinese state media Xinhua News Agency issued a joint statement on the evening of the 21st, saying: “The two sides have positively evaluated the disengagement of front-line forces in the Bangong Lake area in the early stage. They believe this is an important development to solve other problems in the area of the line of actual control in the western section of the Sino-Indian border. Provided the foundation.”
“The two sides agreed to follow the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries, continue to maintain communication and dialogue, stabilize the situation on the ground, reach a mutually acceptable solution steadily and orderly, and jointly maintain peace and tranquility in the border area.
Before the complete withdrawal of troops in the area around Pangong Lake, the troops of the two sides were stationed in the north and south shore areas where their respective territorial rights were claimed.
Tensions over the past few months have raised concerns about the escalation of conflict that may be caused by the deployment of thousands of soldiers in the Ladakh region and Aksai Chin, which China actually controls.
The rivers, lakes, and snow-capped mountains along the border mean that the border line may change, and the soldiers of the two countries face each other in many places, triggering confrontation. But the two countries have a long-term agreement not to use guns or explosives along the border.
In January this year, both armies were injured in a clash in Sikkim in northeastern India.
In June 2020, 20 Indian troops died in the conflict in the Kalwan Valley. China admitted two days ago that four Chinese soldiers died in this conflict. According to reports, the weapons used included stones and mace. China said that the two sides in the conflict “fight at each other.”
The intractable Sino-Indian border issue
The border dispute between China and India has always been a minefield in bilateral relations. The two countries have a border of approximately 2,000 kilometers, and there are territorial disputes in an area with a total area of more than 120,000 square kilometers, involving three parts: the west, middle and east.
Among them, the eastern section of the dispute is mainly between the traditional and customary boundary line recognized by China and the “McMahon Line” drawn by the British ruled India during the period when China did not recognize it. The disputed territory covers an area of 90,000 square kilometers and is basically occupied by India.
The middle section is mainly the Sikkim area. The Chinese side believes that the disputed territory is about 2,100 square kilometers, all of which are currently controlled by India. The confrontation in Donglang took place here two years ago.
The western section is the Aksai Chin area currently controlled by China (with a total area of about 40,000 square kilometers) and is connected to the Kashmir Ladakh currently controlled by India (with a total area of about 59,000 square kilometers).
In 1959, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai proposed to Indian Prime Minister Nehru the concept of the actual line of control, namely the “McMahon Line” in the east and the so-called traditional custom line in the west.
During the Sino-Indian War in 1962, the Chinese army unilaterally ceased fire after crossing the line of control of the Indian army and then retreated 20 kilometers. Nehru said that it was the line of control established by the People’s Liberation Army after two steps and one step back, so he refused to recognize the so-called actual line of control.
Since then, China and India still failed to reach a consensus, but conducted a series of negotiations.
In 2006, India and China held the seventh round of negotiations. It is said that during the negotiations, China put forward a package of proposals to resolve various border disputes, that is, China is willing to abandon its request for southern Tibet (basically Arunachal Pradesh later established by India) on the eastern section of the disputed border in exchange for India’s presence in the west. The disputed boundary recognizes China’s control of Aksai Chin. Because Aksai Chin is an important strategic corridor connecting Tibet and western China.
However, because the two sides failed to reach agreement on many issues left over from the 962 Sino-Indian war, the negotiations were put on hold.
Neville Maxwell, an expert on the history of the Sino-Indian war in 1962, once said that the confrontation between the two armies at the border is very dangerous and may even lead to a second Sino-Indian war.
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