India, China begin fresh disengagement, but ‘trust deficit means it’ll be a long process’

By The Print

Nearly nine months after India and China got embroiled in their worst border tensions since the 1962 war, both sides began a phased disengagement from the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso in Ladakh Wednesday.

The news first emerged when Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, issued a written statement, saying: “The Chinese and Indian frontline troops at the southern and northern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake start synchronised and organised disengagement from 10 February… This move is in accordance with the consensus reached by both sides at the 9th round of China-India corps commander-level meeting.”

While India has not yet reacted officially to this, sources in the defence and security establishment said that disengagement steps have been initiated. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is set to give a statement on this issue in the Rajya Sabha Thursday.

ThePrint has learnt that both countries have started to withdraw their armoured elements from the southern banks of the Pangong Tso, while on the northern banks, both sides are carrying out thinning of troops.

However, sources in India’s strategic establishment told ThePrint that while China has signalled some “positive movement”, it would have to translate those signals into actions. They said since it is not the Chinese defence ministry that will take the final call, the Chinese Communist Party will have to “prove it in action”.

‘Cautious optimism’
Sources said these are initial steps that are being taken, and underlined that no soldier is being pulled back from the heights on the southern banks as of now.

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