New Delhi: Army commanders from China and India are likely to hold a third flag meeting on Friday in Ladakh over Beijing's refusal to withdraw a platoon that has set up camp 10 kilometres inside Indian territory in the Depsang Valley.
China reiterated on Thursday that it has not provoked the flare-up. "China's troops have never crossed the (LAC) line. China and India are neighbours and the boundary is not demarcated yet," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, emphasising the need to end the dispute through "friendly consultations."
India has also reiterated the need to prevent the escalation of hostilities. But an assessment by the army, intelligence agencies, and the foreign affairs ministry concludes that the incursion was what a source described as "a well-thought out decision cleared at the highest level and not a localised action."
The Indian military has told the government that China's army commanders want to use the current crisis to push through a proposal first made by the Chinese Defence Minister, Chang Wanquan, during his visit to India last November. He had said that both countries should notify each other about their patrol plans all along the Line of Actual Control, which India has resisted because it removes the opportunity to take the other side by surprise, if needed.
However, sources say, despite the Army's reservations on this count, the government may agree to this proposal to end the current crisis.
Indian analysts also believe that the timing of incursion is meant to send a message to India that the new leadership in Beijing will continue to pursue the same policies as their predecessors with respect to the boundary dispute with India. The newly-installed premier, Li Keqiang, is scheduled to visit New Delhi next month.
The camp by the Chinese army's platoon was set up on the night of April 15 at Daulat Beg, where India has re-opened a landing strip.
India feels this area was chosen by China because it is guarded not by the Indian Army, but by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). China was concerned about India's attempts to build infrastructure like a road in this region, sensitive for Beijing, because of its proximity to the Karakoram Pass that links China's mainland to the restive Xinjiang province.
So at the second flag meeting held two days ago, China objected to what it described as a new aggressive pattern of patrolling by Indian forces here.