New Delhi: In a significant development and what is seen as a key diplomatic initiative, for the first time since the India-China border stand-off began in 2020, a senior official in the Ministry of External Affairs handling China travelled to Beijing for the 26th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).
This was the first in-person WMCC meeting since the 14th meeting held in July 2019.
The 26th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs was held on February 22, 2023, in person in Beijing.
An MEA statement said in Delhi that the two sides reviewed the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas and discussed proposals for disengagement in the remaining areas openly and constructively.
Such initiatives will “help in the restoration of peace and tranquillity” along the LAC in the Western Sector and create conditions for restoring normalcy in bilateral relations.
“To achieve this objective in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols, they agreed to hold the next round of the Senior Commanders meeting at an early date. The two sides agreed to continue discussions through military and diplomatic channels,” the MEA statement said.
Since May 2020, 11 WMCC meetings have occurred through video-conferencing.
Enough significance is given to the official’s visit, and it is important to note that the meeting occurred in person in China’s capital.
The Chinese delegation was led by the Director General of the Boundary & Oceanic Affairs Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Shilpak Ambule headed the Indian delegation, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the MEA, who handles matters concerning China and Japan.
The last meeting of the WMCC took place in October 2022, a month after the disengagement at the Gogra-Hot Springs. But the border stand-off remains unresolved. It escalated on June 15, 2020, when Indian and Chinese troops clashed during disengagement in Galwan Valley.
In September last year, Indian and Chinese troops disengaged at Patrolling Pillar (15) in the Gogra-Hotspring region of Eastern Ladakh. Forces from two Asain giants have disengaged at friction points in the region, including the north and south banks of the Pangong Tso, PP-14, PP-15 and PP-17A.
However, there are issues from the Chinese side, and their forces have still blocked access to traditional patrolling areas of Indian forces on the LAC in the Depsang Plains and Charding Nala regions.
There were also reports that Indian and Chinese troops had problems in the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh in December 2022.