Focus on the borders – India and China must end the lingering unpredictability across the LAC

Source: The post is based on the article “Focus on the borders – India and China must end the lingering unpredictability across the LAC” published in The Hindu on 1st May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Relevance: About the border tussle between India and China.

News: Indian Defence Minister met his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Defence Ministers Meeting in New Delhi.

What are the key border discussions held during the meeting?

India’s urgency and China’s delay: Indian Defence Minister said that the Chinese violation of border agreements had “eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations.” and conveyed a sense of urgency to resolve the Line of Actual Control (LAC) crisis.

-The Chinese Defence Minister, on the other hand, called on India to “take a long-term view” and “place the border issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations”.

Issues in disengagement: India conveyed that if normalcy is to be restored in ties, disengagement in the two remaining friction points will need to be followed by de-escalation. This includes the eventual de-induction of the estimated one lakh troops from both sides that have remained deployed in forward areas for close to three years.

Must read: Disengagement agreement at Pangong Tso Lake – Explained

What is the present state of border disengagement?

Over the past three years, buffer zones have been established in some of the five friction areas where the two sides disengaged.

However, in two other areas, Demchok and Depsang, China is slowing down the initial momentum of the Corps Commander meetings. The recently held 18th round meeting also did not yield a joint statement, suggesting stark divergences between India and China on how to move forward.

All this made a) De-escalation of the border a far-off prospect, b) Large deployments of military personnel in close proximity, and c) Increased the race to build more forward infrastructure in border areas.

What should be done?

India and China cannot restore normalcy in relations with the underlying unpredictability on the borders. So, managing the LAC should certainly remain the priority for both sides to prevent the recurrence of the clashes of 2020.  

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