Chinese troops disengaging from banks of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh in February of this year

India, China held 11th round of Corp Commander-level talks on 9th April 2021. In February, Indian Army and Chinese PLA disengaged from banks of Pangong lake, Completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way: Indian Army

The Chinese Army has outright refused to agree to any pullback of its troops and vehicles in the Gogra and Hot Springs friction points in eastern Ladakh.

Fresh rigidity has brought to a grinding halt the positive momentum that began in February of this year with a significant troop pullback on both sides in the Pangong Tso sector.

Top sources in the Indian Army's 14 Corps told India Today, "The Chinese side appeared for the 11th round of talks on Friday with a predetermined decision to be totally inflexible."

The 11th round of talks lasted for 13 hours and was the first following the most positive phase in the Ladakh standoff, which resulted in significant disengagement in the tense Pangong area.

This is the same area in eastern Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troop groups were positioned just tens of meters from each other at some posts.

The last round of military talks between India and China was held on February 20 of this year.

Satellite imagery had also confirmed the depth and substance of the Chinese disengagement in the Fingers complex on the north shore of the giant Pangong Lake.

However, China's amenability in the region has hit a major wall in discussions on the Gogra and Hot Springs areas where troop build-up on both sides remains significant. India had proposed a similar phased reduction of frontline troops and vehicles at these two posts, but China refused to budge.

Army Statement Lacks Specifics

Reacting to the 11th round of talks, the Indian Army said in a statement on Saturday, "Completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for two sides to consider de-escalation of forces and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquillity and enable progress in bilateral relations."

"The two sides agreed that it was important to take guidance from the consensus of their leaders, continue their communication and dialogue and work towards a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest," the statement went on to say.

The statement was conspicuous by its lack of specifics on forward movement, an indicator of the stalemate at Friday's talks.

Chinese Deployment Remains Significant

China remains deployed in significant strength at Gogra, Hot Springs and Kongka La areas, with a large PLA logistics facility supporting troops there.

Elements from a motorised infantry division, an artillery brigade and air-defence unit also remain deployed in the area.

While there was brief and token pullback of troops in this part of eastern Ladakh after talks following the June 2020 clash in Galwan, the presence has now become a primary tactical problem area.

China's inflexibility on Gogra and Hot Springs hasn't been unexpected - the Indian Army has accounted well for China's unpredictable posture at the talks- but the apparent duplicity in agreeing that disengagement is the way forward while not agreeing to actually do it has posed a fresh challenge to forward movement.

Apart from the two sectors seeing a stalemate, a discussion on the larger Depsang plains issue is also pending.