India - China: Stalemate in Eastern Ladakh


India - China: Stalemate in Eastern Ladakh

Even after 20 rounds of military talks, the Chinese army remains entrenched well within India-claimed lines at several points in eastern Ladakh since the border standoff began in May 2020.


View off experts: Chinese still within India-claimed lines

Military veterans have cited the long stalemate, and the recent post-talk statements' silence on a return to status quo ante, to suggest that India is capitulating to a Chinese plan to establish a new status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

They have also flagged what they see as India's ceding of more territory to the Chinese through the establishment of non-militarised ‘buffer zones’ at several friction points.

‘It's been over three years since the Chinese transgressions and the Indian government is still sticking to the 'no-intrusion' claims made by Modi,’ a retired lieutenant general said exasperatedly as he spoke to The Telegraph.

What the talks have achieved are ‘partial’ disengagements from the Galwan Valley, Pangong Lake, Hot Springs and Gogra through the creation of ‘buffer zones', with the Chinese and Indian armies stepping back by an agreed and equal distance each.

This has left the Chinese still within India-claimed lines while the Indians have retreated within their own territory, fuelling the ‘ceding more territory’ allegations.

Crucial Depsang Plains: Importantly, the strategically crucial Depsang Plains remain the only friction point where no disengagement has taken place.

This is a 972 sqkm plateau situated 16,000ft above sea level that lies to the west of Aksai Chin, which is under illegal occupation by China, and has the Siachen Glacier on its northwest edge. Here, the Chinese are said to be entrenched 18km inside India-claimed lines.

Overall, claims The Statesman, “the Chinese army is estimated to have taken over close to 2,000 sqkm of India-claimed territory in Ladakh.”

Both sides disengaged from the Pangong Lake in February 2021, from Patrolling Point 17 in the Gogra area in August 2021 and from Patrolling Point 15 (Gogra-Hotsprings) in September 2022. This is in addition to the disengagement from the Galwan Valley in 2020.


Loosing access to 26 of its 65 patrolling points

A research paper submitted by an IPS officer during the DGPs’ conference in Delhi in January this year said India had lost access to 26 of its 65 patrolling points in eastern Ladakh following the Chinese incursions.

'So far, what we have witnessed is capitulation by the Indian government (which has apparently accepted) China’s terms,’ the retired lieutenant general said.

Over 60,000 soldiers with heavy armaments continue to be deployed on both sides, close to the LAC. Over the past three years, the Chinese army is said to have undertaken a massive construction of infrastructure, including roads and bridges and permanent camps for its troops, close to the LAC, altering the status quo on the ground.

All Neighbours Article