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India and China activate border mechanism talk

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    2nd Jun, 2020

India and China have activated the “working mechanism” at the diplomatic level, alongside the military-to-military conversation taking place at the field level to “dis-engage” and “de-escalate” the situation.

Context

India and China have activated the “working mechanism” at the diplomatic level, alongside the military-to-military conversation taking place at the field level to “dis-engage” and “de-escalate” the situation.

About

What is Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination?

  • The “Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC)” was established in January 2012 after border talks between then National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon and his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo, and is headed by joint secretary-level officials from both sides.
  • They are entrusted to help the special representative for boundary talks, a position currently held by NSA Ajit Doval.
  • While joint secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Naveen Srivastava, leads the Indian side, the Chinese side is led by Hong Liang, Director General, Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • These officials have had 14 meetings since 2012, the last one in July 2019, and meet more frequently than the special representatives.

Important Pacts:

  • The border between China and India is 3,488 kilometres (2,167 mi) in length and often in sparsely populated areas.
  • Its exact location has never been formally defined and is thus vague and in dispute.
  • There are five major pacts that both sides agreed upon on the issue of maintaining “peace and tranquillity” along the borders. The pacts are-
    • the 1993 Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
    • the 1996 Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC
    • the 2005 Protocol on Modalities for the Implementation of the Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC
    • the 2012 Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs
    • 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement

The current situation:

  • India’s assessment is that the Chinese are involved in what is known in military parlance as “holding the line”.
  • While there is no agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC), both Chinese and Indian troops patrol up to their “claim lines” and then return.
  • In the current situation, it appears that the Chinese have crossed their perception of LAC and are now camping at the spot in a bid to “hold the line”.
  • This “holding the line” tactic is backed by a large number of Chinese troops — much more than ordinary patrols, which is usually has 25-30 soldiers.
  • This appears to give the impression that the Chinese are keen to dig their heels in.

The US’s angle:

  • US President Donald Trump offered to mediate between India and China to resolve what he called a “raging border dispute”.
  • This is the first time that a US President has offered to mediate between India and China, even as Washington has shown willingness many a time to be a peacemaker between Delhi and Islamabad.
  • China, however, has said Delhi and Beijing were in touch with each other to address the issue, pre-empting Trump’s move.
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