Leading military commanders from China and India met again to discuss the ongoing standoff in the Ladakh area of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but they were unable to reach a concrete agreement beyond agreeing to continue communicating going forward. The standoff has been going on for almost four years.

The external affairs ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the twenty-first round of negotiations between Indian and Chinese corps commanders since the standoff began in May 2020 took place at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting site on February 19.

“The parties have decided to stay in touch going forward via the appropriate military and diplomatic channels. Without providing specifics, the summary stated, “They also pledged to uphold peace and tranquillity on the ground in the border areas in the interim.”

With “complete disengagement in the remaining areas along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh as an essential basis for restoration of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas,” the readout stated that the talks built on earlier rounds of negotiations between the military leaders.

In the “friendly and cordial atmosphere” of the discussions, the two sides “shared their perspectives” on this matter.

The military leaders’ most recent round of negotiations took place on October 9–10 of last year. The commanders concurred to sustain the military discourse and uphold peace at that time as well, but no progress was made right away.

The state of India-China relations is at its lowest point in sixty years, and New Delhi is adamant that normalisation of the relationship as a whole depends on the restoration of peace and calm along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Since the start of the standoff, both sides have stationed more than 50,000 soldiers apiece in the Ladakh region.

After four rounds of frontline soldiers being disengaged in Galwan Valley, the north and south banks of Pangong Lake, Gogra, and Hot Springs, there has been no forward movement. The primary areas of contention that still need to be resolved are Demchok and Depsang.

The situation along the Ladakh Canal in the Indian Army’s home region was described as “stable, yet sensitive” by General Manoj Pande in January. The army is highly prepared for operations, he added, and its deployments are “robust and balanced.” He also mentioned that current discussions through diplomatic and military channels are intended to settle unresolved concerns along the LAC.

Since the start of the impasse, China and India have also had 14 meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs. The most recent meeting, held in November, concluded without any indication that tensions on the disputed border would be resolved.