India And China On The Depsang Plains
India and China remain far from reaching the goal of disengagement, de-escalation, and restoration of status quo ante to resolve the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the 2020 impasse in Eastern Ladakh approaches three years.
Points to Ponder:
- Since May 2020, there has been a standoff between India and China in Eastern Ladakh, and no end is in sight.
- The Line of Actual Control (LAC) disengagement procedure aims to achieve disengagement, de-escalation, and restoration of the status quo ante.
- Galwan, the north and south banks of the Pangong Tso, Patrolling Point (PP) 17 in the Gogra-Hot Springs region, and PP15 have all undergone disengagement.
- There are still arguments over Demchok and the Depsang Plains. China views them as legacy problems from before the 2020 conflict, while India sees them as additional causes of tension.
- India pushed for a return to the pre-April 2020 situation during the 18th round of Corps Commander negotiations, which were held on April 23, 2023.
- There was little progress made at the 27th Meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) on May 31, 2023, and the 19th round of Corps Commander negotiations will soon take place.
- Along the LAC, China has been heavily investing in infrastructure, habitat development, and the introduction of new weapons and equipment, fundamentally changing the state of affairs there.
- To counter China’s operations in Eastern Ladakh, India has also been improving its infrastructure and capabilities.
- Near the LAC, both sides have stationed more than 50,000 soldiers and large pieces of equipment.
- During the disengagement process, buffer zones were established at the hot spots to stop new flare-ups, and neither side is conducting patrols in these areas.
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and satellites are often used for aerial monitoring to ensure that the disengagement understanding is being followed.
- Due to its proximity to the Karakoram Pass and views of the Siachen glacier, the highest battleground in the world, the Saltoro Ridge, and the Depsang area are of strategic importance.
- Indian Army patrols have been hindered by Chinese forces past the Y junction in Depsang, putting Indian positions at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in danger and moving Chinese troops closer to the Darbuk-Shyok-DBO (DSDBO) route.
- The gap between the Limit of Patrol (LoP) and the LAC is at its greatest point in this region, where Depsang has previously seen several face-offs.