Slow steps to India-China border tranquillity

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Source- The post is based on the article “Slow steps to India-China border tranquillity” published in “The Hindu” on 20th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Bilateral groupings

Relevance– Border dispute between India and China

News– India and China appear to be moving towards a new modus vivendi to maintain peace and tranquility along their disputed 4,000 kilometre border.

What are various attempts by two sides to ease the border situation?

The two sides managed to disengage in four of the six points — Galwan, Pangong Tso,

Gogra Post and near Jianan Pass (PP15). But two key areas remain unsettled- the Depsang Bulge and the Charding Ninglung Junction in the Demchok area involving nearly 1,000 square kilometres.

Important discussions took place at the 26th Meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on China-­India Border Affairs. The two sides discussed other measures to further ease the border situation.\

Upgrading the border management means to replace the WMCC with a mechanism that will have both military and civilian officers.

What could be other measures that can restore a measure of normality on border areas?

It includes converting other parts of the LAC into similar no­-patrol zones. This could lead to a package settlement in the two remaining areas of Depsang and Charding Nala.

No­patrol zones could be confined to the places where the two sides have overlapping claims. Till 2020, both sides patrolled till the limit of these contending claims.

There was a protocol that if the two patrols met, they would display banners to ask the other side to go back to their area. Thereafter, the issue was dealt with through meetings.

Chinese journalist scholar Qian Feng suggested that the concept of the “zone of actual control” could replace the “line of actual control” in some areas that had no obvious geomorphological features or population.

Other areas, too, could be delimited as a “border belt” if they did not require population adjustment. It will depend on the intentions of the two interlocutors.

The idea was originally proposed by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. He proposed to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that both sides withdraw 20 kilometres from the “so called”

McMahon Line, as well as the “line up to which each side exercises control in the west”.

What are the reasons for frequent border clashes between India and China?

The entire range of confidence building measures since 1993 was premised on the belief

that both sides largely accepted the LAC. But, there were differences related to some 18­20 points on it.

The 1993 and 1996 agreements specifically spoke about the importance of identifying and resolving these differences. The Chinese did not help in defining a clear LAC without providing any good reasons.

Chinese have not shared detailed maps of their areas of control. That has been at the root of

the problem.

Over the years, the Chinese have been able to shift goalposts at will, especially in relation to the Ladakh border.

What is the Indian stand on border dispute?

Foreign minister Mr. Jaishankar has emphasised that there could be no normality in India­-China ties until the eastern Ladakh situation was resolved.

In 2014 and 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried his level best to persuade the Chinese

to clarify the LAC at the points where there were differences.

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