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Not confident about complete withdrawal of troops from LAC, says China foreign policy expert Yun Sun

In an interview with Network18 Group Consulting Editor Praveen Swami, Yun Sun, Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, said she is not particularly confident about a complete disengagement and full withdrawal of troops.

September 15, 2020 / 04:33 PM IST

While India and China have agreed on a five-point plan to de-escalate tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), an expert in Chinese foreign policy has said she is not particularly confident about a complete disengagement and full withdrawal of troops in the region.

In an interview with Network18 Group Consulting Editor Praveen Swami, Yun Sun, Senior Fellow and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, said a full withdrawal of troops in the region is unlikely. While saying that that there is a possibility that both countries might withdraw a majority of their troops, she added, "For complete disengagement and complete withdrawal I am not particularly confident. I am even less optimistic about the permanent solution."

A joint announcement of a five-point plan for de-escalation was agreed upon and announced after a marathon meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, on the side of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Moscow. This came amid simmering tensions over the India-China border row following the multiple skirmishes over the past few months.

The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been locked in a tense standoff in multiple areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since early May. In June, a violent clash broke out between troops on both sides, in the Galwan Valley region of Ladakh along the LAC. Twenty Indian soldiers lost their lives in the standoff, and reports suggested that there were casualties on the Chinese side as well, although no numbers were disclosed.

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This was followed by several skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops in the subsequent month. In August-end, India accused China of engaging in "provocative action" despite the ongoing commander-level talks on ground, adding that the Chinese side made unilateral attempts to alter the status quo in the region.

Both sides traded barbs over who did what, with officials levelling accusations as to what had actually transpired along the LAC.

While the two sides have bought peace, at least for the time being, by agreeing upon five points to guide their approach to resolve the prolonged border standoff, the agenda nowhere cited a timeline for the disengagement and troop withdrawal.

"So, although this time the tension has escalated to, I would say, rather unprecedented level since 1975, I don’t expect a permanent solution happening at all," Sun observed.

An eminent China scholar, Sun said the climatic conditions in the disputed region will make it quite inhabitable by October, a factor that will nudge forces on both sides to consider withdrawal, coupled with the agreement that has been arrived upon.

On the question of what is China's understanding of the LAC, she said that there is recognition of the fact that both sides do not have their own understanding of what the line is. "There is the Indian LAC and there is also the Chinese LAC. And these two lines do not overlap," she pointed out.
Praveen Swami
first published: Sep 15, 2020 04:33 pm
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