China and India have agreed to step back from confrontation over their disputed border during the freezing Himalayan winter. In a joint statement, the PLA’s Western Theatre Command and the Indian Army said they would maintain stability in the western sector – scene of bloody clashes between the two sides in 2020 – and continue their efforts to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. Both sides had a “frank and in-depth exchange of views” – diplomatic language which usually means a lot of disagreement and heated back-and-forth – according to the statement. “The two sides also agreed to consolidate on the previous outcomes and take effective efforts to maintain security and stability on the ground in the western sector, including during winter,” it said. “The two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue via military and diplomatic channels, and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.” The meeting was held in Moldo, on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, with Xinjiang military district Commander Major General Yang Lin leading the People’s Liberation Army delegation. According to The Indian Express , his counterpart was Lieutenant-General Anindya Sengupta. India Today reported that both sides also sent officials from their foreign ministries to join the talks, which lasted for 13 hours, compared with the last round’s 8½ hours. It was an improvement on the last round of talks, which failed to result in a joint statement. Instead, China accused India of making unreasonable demands, while New Delhi said the stand-off was down to Beijing’s unilateral attempts to alter the status quo at the LAC. China-India border clash survivor doubles down on sovereignty line There have now been 14 rounds of border talks since Indian and Chinese forces had their deadliest encounter in more than four decades, in the strategically important Galwan Valley in Ladakh. An agreement was reached in February for both sides to disengage their troops around Pangong Tso, a lake in the disputed area. They also disengaged in Galwan Valley in July and Gogra in August, though points of friction remain. The stalemate along the LAC is likely to continue over the winter, with both the PLA and Indian army reinforcing their military presence in the disputed region, according to Yogesh Gupta, a former Indian ambassador to Denmark and a specialist in China-India relations. “The deployments of the Chinese side in manpower and weaponry and its border infrastructure are much higher … [putting] increased pressure on India,” he said. “[India is] also improving deployments and border infrastructure … to give a signal to China that its border defences are not weak and it won’t be able to gain any more territories by its deceptive tactics.” Zhou Chenming, a researcher from the Yuan Wang military science and technology institute in Beijing, said the latest talks failed to result in any breakthrough, but at least both militaries had promised not to continue their confrontation in the harsh Himalayan winter. “Further progress will depend on the domestic policies of the Indian side, to see whether New Delhi is able to alleviate their nationals’ anti-Chinese sentiment,” he said. Wang Dehua, an expert on India at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, said little improvement could be achieved as both Beijing and New Delhi had reached the consensus that their relations were as important as the two countries’ ties with the United States and Russia. India accuses China of ‘inventing’ names in disputed border region Wang said the two Asian giants’ increasing trade and economic cooperation might play a role in breaking the deadlock of their long-standing border row, which he described as largely a legacy of British imperialism. “The deadlock of the Sino-India border dispute will be broken only when Beijing and New Delhi are able to develop a new thinking, putting aside their rows and focusing on potential collaboration that could benefit both sides,” he said. “For example, they could join together to exploit water and other natural resources along the resource-rich LAC by establishing Sino-India special economic development zones.” China briefly overtook the US in 2020 to become India’s biggest trading partner, supplying it with heavy machinery, telecoms equipment and home appliances, according to early reports by Indian media, citing government data.