SRINAGAR, India — Indian and Chinese soldiers have backed away from the site of a deadly clash last month in the Galwan Valley along the undemarcated border, Indian security officials said, a sign of the countries’ progress in disengaging from a months-long standoff.
The two sides also appeared to have dismantled recent construction along the river valley high in the Karakoram mountains, satellite images showed.
Three Indian security officials familiar with the developments said soldiers on both sides have moved back about a kilometer (0.6 mile) from the site of their clash on June 15, when military personnel fought with rocks, clubs and their fists in hand-to-hand combat that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter and in keeping with government regulations.
The two sides have also moved apart at two locations in the Hot Spring area, out of at least five places where Indian officials said the Chinese had crossed the Line of Actual Control, the area of the border that remains disputed following a 1962 war that ended in an uneasy truce.
They said soldiers continued to stand at close range at two other sites along the 3,380-kilometer (2,100-mile) line of control, at Depsang and Pangong Lake. At the picturesque lake, the Chinese were 8 kilometers (5 miles) within the disputed border area, the officials said.
Satellite images from June 28 appeared to show that the Indians had built a wall on their side of the Galwan Valley and the Chinese had expanded a camp at the end of a long road connected to Chinese military bases farther from the poorly defined border, according to experts.
But images released on July 6 by Maxar, a Colorado-based satellite imagery company, showed those recent additions now gone.
“There are no structures or vehicles visible within 1.3 kilometers (0.8 mile) of the LAC in the valley,” said Nathan Ruser, an imagery analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
However, Ruser said satellite images showed a “large tent structure” of about 900 square meters (9,687 square feet) appeared just under a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the Line of Actual Control. The tent did not appear in June 28 images of the same area.
The purpose of the tent and its possible contents, if any, were unclear.
The countries’ special representatives on the border issue, Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, agreed in a phone call July 5 that “maintenance of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas was essential for the further development of our bilateral relations,” and to “complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement July 6.
The phone call came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unannounced visit to a military base in the Indian territory of Ladakh, visiting injured soldiers and praising their bravery.