India is hopeful that the ninth meeting of senior military commanders of India and China would be held soon to discuss the roadmap for disengagement and de-escalation of troops at eastern Ladakh so as to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC.
At the same, however, the armed forces have ruled out lowering their guard at the LAC, given China’s belligerent attitude.
Official sources said China appeared serious about the disengagement process at the last meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs between the two countries held on 18 December. Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) had led the Indian team, which also included defence personnel, at the meeting.
Sources said the delay in scheduling the meeting of the senior commanders could be due to the fact that the reins of PLA’s Western Theatre Command, the largest of the five Theatre Commands which manages the border with India and the sensitive regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, were recently handed over to Gen Zhang Xudong following the retirement of his predecessor
Gen Zhao Zongqi. Gen Zhang was among the four officers promoted to the rank of General by President Xi Jinping. Gen Zhang is said to be currently occupied with military familiarisation and troop deployments on the Indian border since he has never served in the area in the past. Once he has completed his operational briefings about the situation along the LAC, China should be in a position to schedule the meeting of senior military commanders.
All previous eight rounds of talks between the top military commanders have been long-drawn affairs, given the complex issues involved in the border stand-off that began in April-May.