Beijing, however, said the agreement for disengagement at Patrolling Point-15, which started at 8.30am on Thursday and will see landforms in the area restored to pre-standoff period, was a positive development and conducive to peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
As per the agreement, the government announced on Friday, the two sides will cease forward deployments in the area in a “phased, coordinated and verified” manner, resulting in the return of the troops of both sides to their respective areas.
“It has been agreed that all temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides will be dismantled and mutually verified and the landforms in the area will be restored to pre-standoff period by both sides,” said ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, adding there will be no unilateral change in status quo in the area. He also said that the two sides had agreed to take the talks forward and “resolve the remaining issues” along the LAC.
While the latest round of disengagement could see the return of a semblance of normalcy in ties, India will want to wait for the process to be completed in the remaining areas before resuming regular bilateral exchanges. That it will be a long-drawn and complex process was evident on Friday as the Chinese side yet again accused India of carrying out military incursions which, according to Beijing, led to the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh.
“I’d like to state that the status quo of April 2020 you mentioned was created by India’s illegal crossing of the LAC. China will by no means accept that,” said a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, when asked if the latest round of disengagement could lead to restoration of April 2020 status quo. “We don’t accept the so-called status quo created by India’s illegal crossing of the LAC, but that doesn’t mean we don’t attach importance to peace and tranquillity along the border. The two sides have all along maintained communication over this through diplomatic and military channels,” she added.
The official went on to claim that China had consistently carried out “normal activities” in the border areas in accordance with bilateral agreements and that it had been asking the Indian side to also follow those agreements. India has held all along that it was China’s violation of written bilateral agreements that led to the present situation.
Official sources said there was no proposal yet for a bilateral meeting between Xi and Modi on the sidelines of the SCO Summit next week. While China wants to move ahead, saying there are very few friction points that still need to be addressed, India is treading cautiously even though it has twice hosted Chinese dignitaries this year, including foreign minister Wang Yi. Along with Xi, Modi will attend the SCO Summit in Samarkand on September 15-16 as India prepares to take over the presidency of the Organisation in 2023.
Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday that it had no information to share on the speculation about Xi-Modi meeting.