LAC clarification not the only route to enhance border peace, says China

Without closing the option, China appeared lukewarm about restarting the clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), despite the advocacy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revive the process which was stalled in 2005.

Instead, the Chinese side appeared to favour an elaboration of the “code of conduct” along the border areas to enhance “Peace and Tranquility” along the unsettled frontiers.

In a conversation with a visiting Indian think-tank and media delegation, Huang Xilian, a senior official in the Asia department of the Chinese foreign ministry, said in response to a question that, “Whatever we do in the border area, it should be constructive.”

He added “That means it should be (a) building block to that process of negotiations and not (a) stumbling block. If we find that the clarification of the LAC is a building block, then of course we should go ahead. But if we find that it could become a stumbling block, it could complicate further the situation, then, we have to be careful.”

China and India do not have a common perception of the alignment of the LAC, throughout its entire stretch of 4,086 kilometers, along the Sino-Indian border.

During his visit to China last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had strongly proposed the resumption of the clarification of the LAC. During his address at the Tsinghua University on May 15, the Prime Minister observed that “a shadow of uncertainty always hangs over the sensitive areas of the border region”. He added: “It is because neither side knows where the Line of Actual Control is in these areas. That is why I have proposed resuming the process of clarifying it. We can do this without prejudice to our position on the boundary question.”

Mr. Huang pointed out that the boundary negotiators from the two countries had “encountered some difficulties” in the previous edition of LAC clarification.  We “tried to clarify some years ago but we encountered some difficulties which led to even complex situation. That is why I said whatever  we do should  make it more  conducive for promoting peace and tranquility for  making things more easier, not to make it things more complicated, the Chinese official observed.

Unlike India’s emphasis on LAC clarification, the Chinese side appeared to favour further exploration of a “code of conduct” regime along the border areas. “We can try to reach agreement on the code of conduct. And we still have quite some things to explore together, to make sure that there is not only one thing, but many things; we should try and seek a comprehensive approach to this.” Mr. Huang had earlier  observed that the Chinese approach was to seek “some kind of comprehensive measures, not only one measure but comprehensive measures to control, to manage the border to ensure peace and tranquility along the border”.

The focus on the “code of conduct” fed into the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), signed between the two countries in October 2013. That agreement had directed the two sides “that they shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding of the line of actual control in the India-China border areas”.  It also pointed out that in case “a doubtful situation arises with reference to any activity by either side in border areas where there is no common understanding of the line of actual control, either side has the right to seek a clarification from the other side”. 

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 6:58:09 PM |

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