India-China military hotline likely

India and China are close to a breakthrough in establishing a hotline between the two military headquarters as part of an effort to improve border management through a new round of confidence building measures (CBMs).

“The Chinese have returned the draft of the memorandum on establishing a hotline between the two military headquarters. The issue should be closed within one or two months,” visiting defence minister Manohar Parrikar said at a media conference on Monday. Mr. Parrikar said that Monday’s talks, first with the Chinese Defence

Minister Chang Wanquan, and, in the afternoon, with Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Fan Changlong focused on CBMs through various means including establishing a hotline and increasing the local border meeting points, in addition to the five which have been already activated.

“We would now like to have further interaction” among officials to work out the details, the minister observed. The defence minister said he raised the issue of clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with his interlocutors in order to ensure “stability at the border”. Highly placed sources told The Hindu that the Chinese side agreed to enhance CBMs to bolster border management, but did not demonstrate particular enthusiasm in the clarification of the LAC. Mr. Parrikar said that neither side specifically raised India’s “in principle” agreement with the United States on the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), though the Chinese side “indicated” its concerns on this topic. “I said that the autonomous policy of India is very clear and it is based on our national interests”, the defence minister observed. The sources pointed out that, without referring to US defence secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to India, the Chinese side pointed to India’s tradition of pursuing an independent foreign policy.

The defence minister pointed out that he took up the negative fallout of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from Gwadar to Kashgar during talks. “We have made our stand very clear and expressed strong reservations in regards to China’s activity in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).” Mr. Parrikar asserted that the Chinese side, in response, noted India’s concerns, but highlighted the economic aspects of the corridor, which they insisted had nothing to do with defence or military aspects.

Asked to confirm whether the China-initiated Maritime Silk Road (MSR) was discussed, Mr. Parrikar said that he had flagged the need for maintaining peace in the Indian Ocean during talks. On China’s role in blocking UN sanctions on Masood Azhar, head of the banned group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Mr. Parrikar said that he “expressed (that) it was not exactly the right direction that they (the Chinese side) have taken”. He added: “Having a coordinated line on terrorism is in the interest of India and China both.” Mr. Parrikar stressed that India was keen to step up its interaction with Beijing as “engaging China more will resolve many of the issues”. Earlier, Mr. Parrikar said that “India attaches highest priority to its relations with China.”

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 1:13:09 PM |

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