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Current Affairs: Opposed To Third Party in LAC Talks, China Tells U.S.

Opposed To Third Party In LAC talks, China Tells U.S.

Context:

China’s military said it was “opposed to third-party involvement” in the India-China border dispute, as it hit out at comments from Washington about Beijing “intimidating” its neighbours.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign policies and Agreements affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India-China Border disputes
  2. Causes of border disputes between India and China
  3. Highlights of  14th round of talks:
  4. Conclusion

India-China Border disputes

  • The border between India and China is not clearly demarcated throughout and there is no mutually agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory. India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
  • The LAC is divided into three sectors, viz. Western, Middle and Eastern.
  • The boundary dispute in the Western Sector (Ladakh) pertains to the Johnson Line proposed by the British in the 1860s that extended up to the Kunlun Mountains and put Aksai Chin in the then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • India used the Johnson Line and claimed Aksai Chin as its own. China, however, do not recognise it and instead accepts McDonald Line which puts Aksai Chin under its control.
  • In the Middle Sector (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), the dispute is a minor one. Here LAC is the least controversial except for the precise alignment to be followed in the Barahoti plains. India and China have exchanged maps on which they broadly agree.
  • The disputed boundary in the Eastern Sector (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim) is over the McMahon Line (in Arunachal Pradesh) decided in 1914 in a meeting of Representatives of China, India, and Tibet in Shimla.
  • Though the Chinese representatives at the meeting initiated the agreement, they subsequently refused to accept it.

Causes of border disputes between India and China

  • Infrastructure Development along the LAC: In the past decade, India has worked hard to strengthen its position on the border and its presence along the LAC. E.g., Dalut Beg Oldie (DS-DBO road) in the northern tip of the western sector greatly facilitates the lateral movement of Indian forces along the western sector, reducing travel time by 40%.
  • Shadow of Doklam Episode: In a broader context, current confrontation is also attributed to the 2017 China-India standoff at Doklam.
  • Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir: China had earlier also protested against the formation of new Union Territory of Ladakh and accused India of trying to transform the LAC unilaterally.
  • Global backlash against China for mishandling of COVID-19: India also supported a Resolution at the World Health Assembly demanding a fair probe into the origin of Coronavirus. Also, India has recently took over as the chair of the WHO executive Board.
  • Signs of new Chinese aggressiveness: along the Sino-Indian border is one of the elements of China’s new adventures including o the new security law Beijing has enacted to control Hong Kong.
  • India’s steps in Indo-Pacific: India’s participation in Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), with strong maritime component, proposals like Supply Chain Resilient initiative are seen by China as potential anti-Chinese alliance of democracies aimed at containing it and checking its maritime rise in the Indo-Pacific.

Highlights of  14th round of talks:

The PLA spokesperson said there were four points of agreement reached in the last round.

  • First, the two sides agreed that they should follow the guidance provided by the leaders of the two countries and work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.
  • Second, the two sides agreed to consolidate the previous outcomes and take effective efforts to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector including in winter.
  • Third, they agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue via military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.
  • Fourth, they agreed that the next round of the Commanders’ talks should be held at the earliest.

Conclusion

  • Rebalancing India’s strategic priorities will require the central government, through the Chief of Defence Staff, to issue firm strategic guidance to the military services. This response will be a test not only of the government’s strategic sense and far-sightedness, but also of the ability of the national security apparatus to overcome entrenched bureaucratic and organisational-cultural biases.
  • Thus far, India has suffered unequal strategic costs from the Ladakh crisis. Chinese troops continue to camp on previously Indian-controlled land. However, critical evaluation of crisis may help to actually brace India’s long-term position against China.
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September 2022
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