Cold drives India and China to withdraw some troops from standoff area

India and China retreat some troops from the border standoff area. Indian media reported Tuesday (Jan. 12) that China has withdrawn 10,000 troops from India’s Ladakh region over the past week to 10 days.

The Hindustan Times quoted Indian officials as saying that the Chinese army’s move was to redeploy troops along the India-China border, with frontline deployments remaining unchanged, and that the timing of the withdrawal may be linked to extreme weather conditions. Experts analyze that the two countries’ armies currently have a total of 100,000 troops on their front lines and in deeper areas.

Observers note that this move by the Chinese army cannot be seen as a move by the Chinese side to prevent further expansion of the situation. This is because earlier India also streamlined its army by withdrawing soldiers who were urgently sent to the frontline as reserves to cope with the extremely cold weather when the India-China standoff began in early May.

The standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh has entered its ninth month, with soldiers holding the frontline positions where the friction occurred in extreme weather conditions. This week, daytime highs there ranged from minus 10 to minus 16 degrees Celsius, and nighttime lows ranged from minus 19 to minus 26 degrees.

The Indian army is also reportedly facing a test of logistical supplies in the harsh conditions at an altitude of nearly 5,000 meters and around -30 degrees Celsius. Writing in the Indian Defence Review, Moore, a retired Indian general, noted that India has never deployed so many troops to East Ladakh on the India-China border as it is now. He also points out that the pre-winter stockpile is unprecedentedly busy, and that the serious challenge of increasing troops in uninhabitable territory is a problem for military decision-makers, who are now shifting their focus from the Chinese military to the cold weather in the high mountains.

So far, India and China have held eight rounds of military talks on disengagement, but no progress has been made. No specific date has been set for the ninth round of talks, which were previously scheduled to be postponed.

Indian officials said the Indian military is closely monitoring developments in the Ladakh theater, as the possibility of a PLA re-entry into the area cannot be ruled out.

Although the military standoff in the Ladakh region remains unchanged, however, India’s chief of defense staff General Bipin Rawat went to sensitive areas such as Leh on Monday to conduct security reviews. And India’s chief air force commander Badauria (Rk Singh Bhadauria) also visited the front of the eastern region of Ladakh on Monday. The two senior Indian military officials visiting the frontline areas of Ladakh are considered to be cheering on Indian soldiers.