China, India to expand border management protocols - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 17 October 2013

China, India to expand border management protocols

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 18th Oct 13

With China wanting to signal “a steady, mature relationship” with India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will benefit from unusual warmth during his visit to Beijing on Oct 22. Government sources in New Delhi said today that President Xi Jinping will break with protocol by hosting a meal for the PM, in addition to the meeting with Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang.

The sources say that the two sides are working to finalise a new Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), which will lay down additional safeguards to ensure peace on the border. The BDCA will be an “incremental addition” to the border management protocols that began with the 1993 Peace and Tranquillity Agreement. This was progressively solidified through the 1996 agreement on Confidence-Building Measures on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and a set of mutually agreed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that military patrols follow when they come into contact in disputed areas.

These protocols have ensured peace on the LAC for two decades, even though both sides patrol disputed areas that they claim. The two major incidents since 1993 --- the Chinese intrusion in 2008 at Finger in Sikkim, and in Depsang, near Daulat Beg Oldi earlier this year --- were resolved through discussions.

Sources say that the BDCA includes measures like: a hotline between military commanders; a “no-tailing” clause that prohibits a patrol from following another from the opposing side after they disengage according to the 2005 SOP. In addition, the BDCA nominates additional points for border personnel meetings (BPMs) in all three sectors of the LAC --- Ladakh (western sector); Uttarakhand (central sector); and Sikkim-Arunachal (eastern sector).

Currently, BPMs take place only at Chushul (Ladakh); Nathu La (Sikkim) and Bum La (Arunachal Pradesh). Now meetings could be held at Kibithu-Damai (Walong sector, Arunachal Pradesh), and Lipulekh La – Qiang La (Uttarakhand).

“The BDCA will take the earlier protocols to the next level. It is important that we establish direct contact between our army and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army),” says a senior government official.

New Delhi takes pains to emphasise that, notwithstanding Indian public outrage at the Depsang instrusion in April/May, Chinese patrol intrusions have actually reduced this year.

The Sino-Indian border issue has also been discussed at the political level in 16 rounds of talks between nominated Special Representatives of both countries, a dialogue track that was instituted during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to China in 2003. The current representatives --- National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, and State Councillor Yang Jiechi --- met in Beijing in June.

Today, a government official indicated that gradual progress is being made in the Special Representatives dialogue. “The two sides have made some progress towards a ‘Framework Agreement’ though there is more to do,” he said.

The Special Representatives dialogue is directed towards reaching a territorial settlement through a three-step process. The first step, an agreement on “Guiding Principles” for a settlement, was concluded in April 2005. The second step envisages an “Agreed Framework” for a settlement. Once this is agreed, the final step will involve the actual delineation of an agreed Sino-Indian border.


  1. It seems good that India and China are willing to take a step forward to resolve long disputed LAC issue. But China should understand that alongside a 66 Billion USD trade and a resolved border pact, they should also try to make relations better with their neighbour in strategic fields. Mr. PM should also shade light on India's concern on Chinese supply of nuke reactors to Pakistan.

    It was a Chinese Nuclear Industry Huaxing Construction which facilitated the transfer of U.S.-origin atomic covering materials to a nuclear site the firm is constructing in Pakistan. Firm on this Monday accepted $2 million in penalties after telling a U.S. court it had plotted to breach rules against selling controlled materials to Pakistan. The company tapped a Chinese third party in attempting to hide the ultimate destination of the goods.

    This Sino-Pak nuclear breach against NSG guidelines is a serious matter of concern as Pakistan's instability and extremist politico-military environment is the threat to the nuke security and a nuclear breach in Pakistan may cause a big nuclear incident. Nuclear technology is as unsafe as Malala Yousufzai is, in Pakistan.

    Thus, keeping in mind that Pakistan and China's behind the screen nuclear deal may push world into a dark era and put the interest of India, Iran, the US, Europe and more ever Chinese & Pakistani interests and civilian security in a worst danger. This gamble is not worth and must be brought as a major issue of concern here and at the international stage.

    Chinese breach shows that the degree of Nuclear Sanctions at International level is much less severe than the forest conservation law's in India.

  2. No wonder we don't have a consistent military or foreign policy!

    Consider the statement give, 'It is important that we establish direct contact between our army and the PLA'. Substitute 'Pakistan Army' instead of 'PLA' and then let's see how many of us will agree with or even condone such a statement.

  3. While nonsensical symbolic issues such as minor Border Patrol confrontations or stapled Visas are in focus, China prepares to transfer two 1000 MW unsafeguarded reactors to Pakistan.

  4. There are six Land Customs Stations (LCS) in Arunachal Pradesh for border trade with China. India must invest heavily to improve the facilities at these LCSs. Serious steps need to be taken for increased volume and value of border trade with China. Simultaneous improvement of security arrangements will stop China from its aggressive actions against India. This will also stop them from such actions like issuing stapled visas.
    Government and authorities need to take urgent initiatives.


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