China and India have decided to settle their dispute at the site of their shared border in the Himalayas. The two countries will disengage from months-long tensions, which threatened violence and would not benefit either side.
In June, we reported on the killing of 20 Indian soldiers as well as China’s decision to release 10 captured Indian soldiers and the tensions and risk of military conflict has not subsided since, until a statement was released by both countries’ foreign ministries. On Friday, they released a joint statement, saying that their troops must quickly disengage from the standoff at their long-disputed Himalayan border. The dispute dates back to the lat 50s.
“The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” the statement said, according to Al Jazeera.
The Chinese ministry said, separately, that it is committed to “restoring peace and tranquillity” at the border and that it would maintain communication channels with India.
Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation foreign ministers’ meeting in Moscow to try and end the dispute.
“[The] imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides,” Wang reportedly told Jaishankar at the Moscow meeting.
All personnel and equipment must be moved from the region where there was physical contact between the two sides in an effort to “quickly disengage”. However, this doesn’t mean that this is the end of the conflict.
“This deal is significant but on the other hand I am still cautious. Let’s wait and see what transpires in the next few weeks and months. That will be the crucial test,” Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University in Bloomington, the United States told Al Jazeera.
This significant development doesn’t spell the end of the China-India dispute, but it will go a long way to relieving unnecessary pressure on both sides in terms of diplomatic efforts and economic commitments that any military confrontations would have cost. With India battling a massive surge in coronavirus cases and China still trying to reopen its economy and focus its attention on the upcoming US elections, this will put a stopper on what is going to be a complex geopolitical issue, going forward.