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India-China 1993 - Line of Actual Control (LAC)

An Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas was signed on 7 September 1993. After more than thirty years of border tension and stalemate, high-level bilateral talks were held in New Delhi starting in February 1994 to foster "confidence-building measures" between the defense forces of India and China, and a new period of better relations began.

In November 1995, the two sides dismantled the guard posts in close proximity to each other along the borderline in Wangdong area, making the situation in the border areas more stable. During President Jiang Zemin's visit to India at the end of November 1996, the Governments of China and India signed the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India Border Areas, which is an important step for the building of mutual trust between the two countries. These Agreements provide an institutional framework for the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas.

Though lot had been done during the Sino-Indian official border talks, with number of border related CSBMs put in place, the border issue remains mired in various bilateral and domestic compulsions and contradictions on both sides. Border 'encounters' between India and China are not rare and arise from the very real disagreements that exist between the two sides in demarcating the LCA on the ground. Such incidents have usually been handled, not in full media glare, but by the two sides discreetly withdrawing to their earlier positions.

The two sides withdrew sentries along the eastern section that were considered to be too close to each other. During early 1990s, India unilaterally withdrew about 35,000 troops from its eastern sector. On the other hand, the PLA maintains a force between 180,000 and 300,000 soldiers and has directly ruled Tibet from 1950 to 1976, and indirectly thereafter. Tibet today is connected to other military regions through four-lane highways and strategic roads. And Beijing's capability to airlift troops from its other neighbouring military regions has advanced very far from its comparative inability to use air force in 1962.

During the Indian Prime Minister's visit to China in June 2003 India and China signed a Memorandum on Expanding Border Trade, which adds Nathula as another pass on the India-China border for conducting border trade. The Indian side has agreed to designate Changgu of Sikkim state as the venue for border trade market, while the Chinese side has agreed to designate Renqinggang of the Tibet Autonomous Region as the venue for border trade market.

During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India in April 2005, the two sides signed an agreement on political settlement of the boundary issue, setting guidelines and principles. In the agreement, China and India affirmed their readiness to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary issue through equal and friendly negotiations.

India after 1962 adopted a policy to not develop the border areas. The idea was that if India developed the border areas, the Chinese can easily use these facilities in the event of a war. This policy had changed by 2008. To redress the situation arising out of poor road connectivity which has hampered the operational capability of the Border Guarding Forces deployed along the India-China border, the Government has decided to undertake phase-wise construction of 27 road links totaling 608 Km in the border areas along the India-China border in the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs.912.00 crores. The work of construction of 2 roads in Arunachal Pradesh has started. The construction of these roads was expected to start during 2008-09.

The two sides have differences in perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas. Both sides carry out patrolling activity in the India-China border areas. Transgressions of the LAC are taken up through diplomatic channels and at Border Personnel Meetings/Flag Meetings. India and China seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question through peaceful consultations.

Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Sanya City, south China's Hainan Province, April 13, 2011. Hu said China is willing to further push forward negotiations on border issues on the basis of peace and friendliness, equal consultation, mutual respect and understanding. The two sides should consider setting up a consultation and coordination mechanism on border issues so as to achieve consensus as soon as possible and to better maintain peace and stability at the border regions before the issues are solved.

China wants India to put behind the 1962 war as an "unfortunate" thing of the past and that the two countries should strengthen their military ties including formalising a border management pact under which their troops will not fire at each other. The Chinese assessment was conveyed to the Indian defence ministry team which visited Beijing on 14-15 January 2013 for the third round of the annual defense dialogue between the two countries.

Border tensions between China and India flared after New Delhi claimed a contingent of 30 to 50 PLA soldiers crossed about 12 miles beyond the Line of Actual Control between the two countries on 15 April 2012 and stayed there for three weeks. According to New Delhi, PLA soldiers frequently conduct border incursions (more than 600 times over the last three years) but do not usually cross more than a few miles over the Line of Actual Control nor stay there longer than several hours.

Beijing denied Chinese troops had crossed into Indian territory. A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said, ‘‘China has always acted in strict compliance with relevant agreements and protocols between the two countries on maintaining peace and tranquility in the Line of Actual Control area along the border . . . Chinese patrol troops have never crossed the line.’’ Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attempted to downplay the incident and the risk of conflict. During a state visit to India, he insisted that ‘‘a few clouds in the sky cannot shut out the brilliant rays of our friendship.’’ Premier Li did not directly address the alleged Chinese incursion, though he said ‘‘both sides believe we need to improve various border-related mechanisms that we have put into place and make them more efficient, and we need to appropriately manage and resolve our differences.’’

President Xi Jinping met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa, 29 March 2013. Xi urged both sides to use special representatives to strive for a fair, rational framework that can lead to a solution to the border issue as soon as possible. India will abide by political guidelines set by both sides and seek a solution to the border issue with a commitment to safeguarding peace, Singh said. Since 2003, more than a dozen rounds of talks had been launched to resolve the border disputes. But ties have still been occasionally strained by the issue and overshadowed by closer India-US relations amid Washington's accelerating Asia "pivot" policy.

Beijing and New Delhi resolved the April border impasse in May after a series of talks and agreed to pursue a formal agreement to build trust and confidence between the border troops. The two sides signed the agreement during the Indian prime minister’s trip to China in October 2013. China and India concluded a border defense cooperation pact 24 October 2013, making it a highlight of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the Asian neighbor. The Indian Express newspaper said the pact also puts no restrictions on India developing border infrastructure or enhancing military capabilities along the border. It quoted India's Ambassador to China S. Jai Shanker as saying: "This principle allows both countries to take appropriate measures according to their own security needs."

Nevertheless, the potential for periodic low-level confrontations between border patrols to escalate persisted. Indian media have reported several additional albeit briefer incursions by Chinese troops since the April standoff. Furthermore, both China and India continue to boost their militaries’ capabilities on the border, adding to mutual suspicion. This has left both sides sensitive to each other’s border activities and disposed toward worst-case perceptions of the other sides’ intentions and activities. Ely Ratner and Alexander Sullivan of the Center for a New American Security, warn: ‘‘more intense strategic competition between India and China would reverberate throughout the continent, exacerbating tensions in Central Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia. Disruptions to the Asian engine of economic growth caused by these tensions could debilitate the global economy.’’

Chinese troops entered disputed territory along the Sino-Indian border, Indian media sources reported, claiming it's not the first time China has made an incursion into the Indian border region. "Chinese troops are reported to have entered 25 to 30km deep into Indian territory in Burtse area in Ladakh where they had pitched their tents last year that had led to a tense three-week standoff," The Times of India reported on 18 August 2014. Citing official sources, the media outlet notes that troops from the People's Liberation Army were spotted on Monday near the 'New Patrol base' post in Ladakh's Burtse area. According to these sources, the PLA has crossed a de-facto border known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and moved deeper into Indian-held territory. The PLA reportedly carried flags reading "this is Chinese territory, go back" in their hands.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping to resolve a boundary dispute after holding talks in New Delhi 18 September 2014 that lasted much longer than the stipulated 90 minutes. Modi said he had raised serious concerns over the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He said the boundary dispute must be resolved soon. The Indian leader said they were clear that peace on the border has to be the foundation of the trust and relationship between the two nations. Modi called for an early clarification of the “line of actual control” which presently separates the two countries. He said if this happened “we can realize the potential of our relations." Xi’s visit to India took place as troops from both countries were engaged in a border standoff in the Ladakh region - one of their worst in recent years. The Chinese leader played down the tensions, attributing such incidents to their undemarcated border.

India's foreign minister said 26 September 2014 that India and China had resolved a tense, two-week military border standoff in the northern Himalayan region. Sushma Swaraj said after meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in New York that Chinese troops would begin withdrawing Friday 26 September 2014 and would be finished by Tuesday. She described the resolution as a "big accomplishment." Hundreds of Chinese troops moved into a territory claimed by India, sparking the standoff on the remote mountainous frontier of Ladakh. India said the Chinese troops wanted to extend a road they were building on their side of the border into territory claimed by India. China agreed not to extend the road into the disputed territory. In return, India agreed to demolish a recently built observation hut.

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Page last modified: 05-01-2022 15:43:15 ZULU