LAC differences may stall India-China CBMs

A jawan keeps vigil at the border in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. File photo: Ritu Raj Konwar  

The China-India track on a possible new round of confidence-building measures (CBMs) is expected to see a contest between New Delhi’s insistence on the clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Beijing’s focus on the elaboration of a “code of conduct” among border troops.

Diplomatic sources told The Hindu that the resumption of the clarification of the LAC, which was publicly raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his China visit last month, is one of the core objectives of the CBM process. “It was formally documented in the peace and tranquillity accord that was signed in 1993 in the backdrop of friction such as the one caused during the Wandung incident of 1986 in Arunachal Pradesh. Neither side wanted a repeat of such an eventuality,” the sources said.

The sources pointed out that the spirit behind LAC clarification, which was raised by Mr. Modi, is to prevent inadvertent incidents along the border.


» Doesn't want approach to CBMs focussed on LAC alone
» Seems to favour the expansion of the "code of conduct" regime among troops
» Says LAC clarification will prevent inadvertent confrontations
» Code of conduct protocol in place since 2005

“Unless we have a reliable reference point, which a clarified LAC would provide, there is always a danger of inadvertent border incidents on the ground or in the air,” the sources observed.

The Special Representatives of the two countries are engaged in a lengthy process of negotiations to define the final frontiers between India and China. India’s reassertion on LAC clarification follows observations by Huang Xilian, a senior official in the Asia department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

In an interaction with a visiting Indian delegation on Wednesday, Mr. Huang had signalled China’s preference for deepening the code of conduct regime over the LAC clarification process.

Focus on LAC clarification, India tells China

The Special Representatives of India and China are engaged in a lengthy process of negotiations to define the final frontiers between the two countries. India’s reassertion on the need to clarify the Line of Actual Control (LAC) follows observations by Huang Xilian, a senior official in the Asia department of the Chinese foreign ministry that India and China had “tried to clarify (the LAC) some years ago but we encountered some difficulties which led to even complex situation”.

On the contrary, the Chinese official seemed to favour the expansion of the “code of conduct” along the borders.

But countering this observation, the sources said that the code of conduct has already been fully elaborated in the CBM protocol along the LAC that was signed by the two sides on April 11, 2005.

“The wide ranging protocol covers all the conceivable contingencies that may arise and ways to address them,” the sources observed.

For instance the protocol — a detailed elaboration of the 1996 CBM accord — limits the size and orientation of military exercises along the LAC, details the protocol that needs to be followed in case of an alleged air intrusion, including a flag meeting within 48 hours of the incident, and prescribes a code of conduct in case of an eventuality of eye-ball to eye-ball military contact in the LAC area.

The sources stressed that the Chinese side was committed to LAC clarification in the documents signed between September 1993 to November 2006, but for some “explicable’ reason have not endorsed the process on paper since 2008.

1996 Accord

The sources said that the LAC clarification process had fully commenced following the 1996 CBM accord where there was an agreement to exchange maps indicating the “respective perceptions” of the two sides regarding “the entire alignment of the LAC as soon as possible”.

The Middle Sector process of clarification was broadly completed, but problems arose in clarifying the Western Sector.

According to an understanding that had been previously reached, the Eastern Sector clarification was to subsequently commence, but the entire process has since been stalled.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 5:42:48 AM |

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