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Doklam chill remains: India-China border meeting not held

October 2, 2017

By Rajat Pandit

Times of India, October 1, 2017 - The Indian and Chinese armies may have disengaged from their eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the Bhutanese territory of Doklam+ after hectic diplomatic parleys but the distinct chill between the rival troops remains on the ground over a month later.

The two armies did not hold their traditional border personnel meeting (BPM) at the five designated places along the 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control to mark China's 68th national day on Sunday, as is the norm every year.

"The People's Liberation Army did not send us an invite for the ceremonial meeting at the five BPM points (Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul in Ladakh, Bum La and Kibithu in Arunachal, and Nathu La in Sikkim) on October 1," said a source.

There has also been "no forward movement" on the 7th edition of the annual "Hand-in-Hand" exercise between the Indian Army and PLA, which was to be held in China this month. "The exercise is unlikely this year," he added.

Sources say the two armies continue to maintain their stepped-up force levels near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction+ even weeks after the troops disengaged from the stand-off site at Doklam, concluding 73 days of tense confrontation.

The face-off had seen both the sides move forward additional infantry battalions as well as armoured (tanks), artillery, missile and air defence units in a show of strength to back their small number of troops on the actual stand-off site, as reported by TOI earlier.

"The PLA did halt construction of its motorable road through the stand-off site towards the Jampheri Ridge (physically blocked by Indian soldiers after coming down from their adjacent Doka La post on June 16) but is maintaining its force-levels in the area," said another source.

The assessment is that the ground situation will remain the same till the crucial 19th party congress of the Chinese Communist Party from October 18, with President Xi Jinping all set to win a second five-year term to further consolidate his power.

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