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Indian and Chinese troops have been involved in as many as four incidents in recent weeks along the undefined LAC.

A greater capability by India to patrol up to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) coupled with an increasingly assertive Chinese posture is fuelling new tensions along the border, according to former senior Indian officials.

Frequent Face-off Incidents and Protocols

  • Face-off incidents occur routinely in the summer months when both sides are able to more frequently patrol up to their respective perceptions of the LAC.
  • Detailed protocols are in place for troops to handle such incidents.
  • According to the 2005 protocol on modalities for implementing confidence-building measures, neither “shall use force or threaten to use force” and “both sides shall treat each other with courtesy and refrain from any provocative actions”.
  • The 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement said patrols “shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding” of the LAC.

Possible Causes

  • These incidents were more likely fuelled by the on-the-ground dynamic than other geopolitical factors or tensions, such as India’s tightening of FDI from China or the COVID-19 pandemic
  • India has been upgrading its infrastructure along the border, thereby allowing troops to patrol with greater depth and frequency into areas where the Chinese had, by virtue of favourable terrain and better infrastructure, established a more frequent presence.
  • Clarifying perceptions of the LAC could help, but China has stalled the process.
  • If tactical imperatives are driving recent incidents, they could have strategic consequences.

-Source: The Hindu

November 2023