After nine months of military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), frontline troops of both India and China will start “synchronised disengagement” from the Northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso lake in the Ladakh region as per the statement released by the Ministry of National Defence of China. Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense made the announcement in a written statement published on February 10.
The agreement to pull troops from the border is according to the terms agreed in the 9th round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting on January 24, 2021. The disengagement of troops will be conducted in a “phased manner coordinated and verified manner” as per statement of India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Rajya Sabha. The implementation of this agreement to disengage has started as of February 10.
“The Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to east of Finger 8.Reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3. A similar action would be taken in the South Bank area by both sides. These are mutual and reciprocal steps and any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 in both North and South Bank area will be removed and the landforms will be restored,” said India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Rajya Sabha while speaking to Rajya Sabha.
This major breakthrough comes after a series of border standoffs last year in the Himalayan region. The relations between the two countries deteriorated after the standoff. In the following months, India banned several Chinese mobile apps citing national security reasons. However, India has maintained the parallel diplomatic channel open to diffuse the situation. Since September 2020, the Senior Commanders of both sides have conducted 9 rounds of meetings and diplomatic talks have continued in parallel under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).
Speaking to the parliament, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed that India has maintained the diplomatic and military engagement with Chinese side. India has maintained three key principles while engaging the Chinese side. First, both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC. Second, neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally. Third, all agreements and understandings between the two sides must be fully abided by in their entirety.
Both sides have also agreed to have a temporary moratorium on military activities in the North Bank, including patrolling to the traditional areas. Patrolling will resume only after subsequent diplomatic and military talks between India and China.
Next meeting of the Senior Commanders will be held within 48 hours after the complete disengagement in the Pangong Lake area to address and resolve all other remaining issues.