India: Tension along LAC has reduced



Tension along LAC has reduced, Rajnath Singh says in Arunachal Pradesh

The minister, who is on a two-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh, made the remark after visiting an Indian Army forward post at Bumla near the border with China and interacting with soldiers and officers there.

INDIA Updated: Nov 15, 2019 14:25 IST

Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Defence minister Rajnath Singh visited the Indian Army’s forward post at Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday
Defence minister Rajnath Singh visited the Indian Army’s forward post at Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday(twitter/@rajnathsingh)

Defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday that both the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have reduced tension on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) “despite perceptional differences”.

The minister, who is on a two-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh, made the remark after visiting an Indian Army forward post at Bumla near the border with China and interacting with soldiers and officers there.

“Despite perceptional differences on the boundary issue both the Indian Army and PLA have been sensible enough to reduce tensions on LAC. I congratulate the Indian Army for showing great maturity in all situations,” tweeted Singh.

Watch: Rajnath Singh visits Bum La pass, says no tension with Chinese Army at LAC

During his visit, the Union minister is taking stock of security preparations along the border with China. Beijing claims most of Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls South Tibet, to be part of its territory.

In September this year, Tapir Gao, a Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker from Arunachal Pradesh had claimed that Chinese army personnel had entered India and built a temporary bridge over a stream.

The Indian Army denied there was any such thing in an official statement.

“Had a wonderful interaction with brave jawans and officers of the Indian Army. The army is securing India’s frontiers even in the most challenging environment,” Singh tweeted.

The defence minister would also inaugurate on Friday a 200-metre bridge on the Sisseri River connecting Pasighat and Roing in the northeastern state, which would reduce travel time between both places by nearly five hours.

Singh also visited the memorial of Subedar Joginder Singh, a Param Vir Chakra awardee who fought valiantly during the 1962 war with China before laying down his life, at Bumla.

India/China: Trade point planned at India-China LAC



Trade point planned at India-China LAC

Although the Indian Army’s spokesperson did not respond to queries, three officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that the army has cleared the opening of the post, and that it is up to the government now.

INDIA Updated: Jul 19, 2019 07:09 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India news,China,India
Image for representation(HT file photo)

The Indian Army has approved the opening of a new trading point with China at Dumchelle in Ladakh, the third such along India’s disputed, albeit peaceful 3,488-km border with China in a confidence building measure ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s October visit.

Although the Indian Army’s spokesperson did not respond to queries, three officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that the army has cleared the opening of the post, and that it is up to the government now.

Hindustan Times learns that the trading post could open as soon as the end of the year and that work has already started on the customs check point and the road to it. The only thing left is for the Cabinet Committee on Security to sign off.

Dumchelle is in Southern Ladakh, and is strategically located between Chushul , one of the five designated Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) meeting points between the Indian and Chinese armies, and Demchok in Southern Ladakh.

The two other recognised trading points with China are Lipulekh in Uttrakhand and Nathu La in Sikkim. Predetermined, locally made items are traded through these points with an aim of boosting the local economy.

President Xi is scheduled to be in India in October for an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Opening up another trading point along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) would be a major confidence building measure, analysts said.

Although the Dumchelle trading point will be new, trade at the border town between residents of Ladakh and the Tibetans from the other side has a long history. Goods are bought and sold at Dumchelle regularly. In addition, there is a three-week-long fair at Dumchelle where locals from both sides participate.

In the past, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has even used the hotline, which connects military commanders on both sides of the border and which is used to sort out minor issues, to discuss dates of the fair. “It is an informal arrangement between the two sides,” a senior serving Indian Army officer said.

“It is a traditional trade route. In the past, the army has written to the government advising it to either completely stop the trade or formalise the exchange,” a government official added.

The current trade through Dumchelle is informal and designating it a trading point will automatically lead to “supervision of the goods flowing through this area. Also, there could be revenue implications for the government,” this person said. “Ladakh is flooded with Chinese made goods, much of which is traded through this particular point.”

India-China ties which hit a low during the 73-day long stand-off between the armies of the two countries in the Doklam plateau in Sikkim in 2017 warmed after the historic informal summit at Wuhan between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi in April 2018. Both leaders agreed to give “strategic” guidance to the respective militaries to reduce border tensions.

Nonetheless, caution on either side is understandable. The LAC is not demarcated. To address this, the two countries have agreed to elaborate mechanism that includes banner drills and communication between local commanders through established “hotlines” to ensure minor issues do not escalate into major ones.

First Published: Jul 19, 2019 06:58 IST

China-India Border Talks Remain Difficult Amid Map Burning Controversy



China-India Border Talks Remain Difficult Amid Map Burning Controversy

The recent burning of maps by China that portrayed Arunachal Pradesh as part of India has elicited diverse opinions from different quarters on the meaning of the episode, what triggered it, and its effect on the continuing dialogue between the two countries to resolve the border row.

“Maps are the main form of representing national territory, which is serious for its political, scientific and legal significance. Problematic maps, if they appear in imported and exported products, will confuse the international community about China’s territory and the government’s position, or even be hyped by those with ulterior motives, seriously damaging national interests and the government’s image, the notice emphasized,” said the state-run daily, Global Times.

So far, 21 rounds of talks have been held between India and China to resolve the differences over the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which spans a long distance of 3,488 km mostly over hilly terrain. The last round, held in Sichuan between Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, took place amid the backdrop of the 73-day confrontation between the two militaries at Doklam. The confrontation centered on the Chinese Army’s plan to construct a road close to India’s strategic “Chicken’s Neck,” which links seven border states collectively called the Northeast.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.There are around 20 places along the LAC where the claims of both the countries overlap besides Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh which China claims as its own territories. The confusion has resulted in frequent intrusions by the army into each other’s territories in the past several years.

Dialogue Will Continue

Indian diplomats are of the view that neither the burning of the maps nor the incident at the recent BRI summit in Beijing when maps showing Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as parts of India were removed would impede future talks to resolve the border dispute. They point to the slew of agreements inked between the two neighbors in the past two-and-a-half decades and the Wuhan Summit last year as an indication of the improving ties despite the failure to resolve the border dispute.

“The authorities are now proactively ensuring the correct depiction of China’s boundaries as the country regards them and is imposing serious penalties on those who may be guilty of lapses, inadvertent or otherwise. China’s position remains that Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, known to China as southern Tibet, are Chinese territories; that Jammu and Kashmir is disputed territory between India and Pakistan and should be settled between them. I do not believe that the above position has changed,” said Shyam Saran, a former Indian foreign secretary.

Saran’s opinion that the burning or removal of the maps has not changed China’s position on the border is echoed by former director of the New Delhi based Institute of Chinese Studies Prof. Alka Acharya who is currently with Jawaharlal Nehru University. “They (Chinese) are extremely punctilious about their maps and did clearly not want any depiction which does not accord with their official position.   There will be no impact on the ongoing dialogue. Destroying maps which did not uphold their claim does not mean they would change their position – it is only a reiteration –  a logical step in keeping with their claim. They would not want anything to dilute that claim,” she said.

No Early Resolution of Border Dispute

At the same time, there are Sinologists and a section of Indian government officials who are less optimistic and doubtful of an early resolution of the border dispute between the two countries. A senior army official who was recently posted on the border in Arunachal Pradesh explained that while some intrusions by the Chinese army into Indian territory could have been “accidental,” there were other instances which indicate that they were “deliberate attempts.” He referred to an episode in 2014 when PLA troops intruded and camped in Ladakh for several days which also coincided with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India.

Some intelligence officials believe that while cooperation between the two neighbors could reach new heights in several areas in the years ahead it is doubtful if Beijing would be willing to arrive at a settlement of its border with India anytime soon. They said that China’s reluctance to settle territorial disputes is also discernible with its other neighbors like Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam.

“It is a chauvinistic policy which harks back to the territorial claims of the last Chinese imperial dynasty, the Qing and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) strives to gain legitimacy by shrouding itself in the robes of bygone Emperor,” explained author and prominent Sinologist Lars Ellstrom. “It is thus also a very dangerous policy. One should not expect any will to compromise from the leaders in Beijing but rather that they might act in arbitrary and impulsive ways.”

“In addition, when armed forces face each other in the field small mistakes can quickly escalate into major confrontation.  As regards the shredding and burning of those maps, those actions are of course one manifestation of this assertive or chauvinistic, no-compromise, policy. I cannot and will not predict exactly what will happen but what is going on does not bode well for India, Taiwan, nor for the world.”

Rajeev Bhattacharyya is a senior journalist in Assam, India.