China foreign minister\'s visit may end LAC logjam

It will be the first time that a top-level visit will take place from either country to the other after the conflict at the Galwan Valley

New Delhi: In what could indicate the beginning of a thaw in Sino-Indian relations at the top level, there are indications that Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi may visit New Delhi later this month. If the visit takes place, it will be the first time that a top-level visit will take place from either country to the other after the deadly conflict at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh sector between Indian and Chinese troops two years ago. External affairs minister S. Jaishankar and Mr Wang Yi, who also holds the rank of state councillor, have held meetings in other locations in third countries such as Russia’s capital Moscow as well as telephonic conversations in the past two years, but neither foreign minister has visited the other country after the Galwan Valley clash in June 2020.

Relations between the two Asian giants had deteriorated following the massing of Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops at the border areas in the Ladakh sector that started in April-May 2020, and had eventually led to the deadly clash in Galwan, in which the troops of both sides lost their lives. Both nations have since held several rounds of talks at the diplomatic and military level, but the disengagement between the troops of both sides have not taken place at all the friction points yet due to the perceived reluctance of Chinese troops to pull back. Both countries have also accepted that bilateral ties have gone downhill in the past two years and the Chinese foreign minister’s likely visit may be seen as an initiative on the part of Beijing to improve ties with New Delhi. However, India is also clear that Chinese troops must first pull back from all friction points in the border areas in Ladakh and restore the status quo that existed in the spring of 2020 before bilateral relations can be normalised.

The MEA had informed Parliament only last month: “As regards the disengagement in the remaining areas along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, India and China have maintained dialogue through both diplomatic and military channels. Our approach in these talks has been and will continue to be guided by three key principles – that both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC; neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally, and all agreements between the two sides must be fully abided by in their entirety.”

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