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PLA’s eye is on 1959 Claim Line. But Modi, Xi can get around it and make peace before winter

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Twelve days after the foreign ministers of India and China met in Moscow, the two sides held the much-awaited Corps Commander-level talks at Moldo to work out a comprehensive plan for disengagement and eventual de-escalation at the Line of Actual Control.

The joint statement released on 22 September says: “They agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments, stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation.” A rather long sentence, but one that does not hold any hope that things will get better anytime soon. If anything, it is indicative of the diplomatic impasse and a likelihood of continuation of the volatile status quo.

I analyse the situation with respect to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s physical control of the 1959 Claim Line with focus on Sub Sector North (SSN), popularly known as the Depsang Plains or Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) Sector.

Also read: Xi’s motivations behind LAC standoff and why China has been hyperactive since 2017

China’s immediate political and military aims — to prevent India from developing border infrastructure that threaten Aksai Chin and other areas captured before/during the 1962 War — are achieved by securing territory up to the 1959 Claim Line, first mentioned in Zhou Enlai’s letter to Jawaharlal Nehru. Since May this year, China has physically secured the1959 Claim Line in Galwan, Hot Springs-Kugrang River-Gogra and North of Pangong Tso. In SSN, it is yet to assert its physical presence, but has aggressively prevented our troops from patrolling up to the LAC. The deployment of our troops is restricted to the West of the 1959 Claim Line. The only other area left is Demchok, which being inhabited, may be left for later resolution/usurpation.

The 1959 Claim Line is strategic in concept and tactically forecloses all Indian options to threaten Aksai Chin and other areas under Chinese occupation. This line also makes our........

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