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Daily-current-affairs / 20 Mar 2023

Slow Steps to India-China Border Tranquility : Daily Current Affairs


Date: 21/03/2023

Relevance: GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests, India and its neighborhood- relations.

Key Phrases: Border Tranquillity, Line Of Actual Control, Negotiation, Galwan Valley, No-Patrol Zones, Bilateral Relations, Zone Of Actual Control, Border Belt, McMahon Line.


  • India and China appear to be moving towards a new modus vivendi to maintain peace and tranquility along their disputed 4,000 kilometre border.

Key Highlights:

  • In 2020, the older arrangements, shaped by the agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005, and 2013, fell apart in Ladakh.
    • It happened when the Chinese massed forces in Tibet and erected blockades at six locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent Indian troops from patrolling the border.
  • A clash in Galwan in June 2020 resulted in the deaths of twenty Indian and four Chinese soldiers, the first such fatalities on the LAC since 1975.
  • The Sino-Indian conflict in December 2022 at Yangtse, north-east of Tawang, suggests that additional measures may be required over the entire LAC, not only in Ladakh.

Attempts to Ease the Border Situation:

  • Officials from both nations held important discussions during the 26th Meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on China-India Border Affairs in Beijing.
    • This was the first in-person meeting of the WMCC after holding the previous 11 rounds by video conference since the 2020 events.
  • The Indian press release stated that proposals for disengagement in "remaining areas" were discussed in an "open and constructive manner," which could lead to the restoration of normal bilateral relations.
  • The Chinese release mentioned the "achievements made in the disengagement of border troops of the two countries at four locations, including Galwan Valley," and that the two sides would work along "established lines" to resolve the western boundary issues.
  • While patient diplomacy over the past three years has resulted in the disengagement of forces at four of the six places, the Depsang Bulge and the Charding Ninglung Junction in the Demchok region, the two critical areas, remain unsettled.

Measures Restoring Normality:

  • While several proposals have been discussed, one proposal being discussed is to establish similar no-patrol zones in other parts of the LAC, which could lead to a package settlement in the remaining areas of Depsang and Charding Nala.
  • The discussions have also reportedly focused on upgrading border management by replacing the WMCC with a mechanism that includes both military and civilian officers.
    • Confidence-building measures since 1993 were based on the assumption that both sides accepted the LAC's general layout, despite differences regarding around 18-20 points.
  • The 1993 and 1996 agreements emphasized the importance of identifying and resolving these differences.
    • However, the Chinese abandoned the task of defining a clear LAC without giving any clear reasons, which ultimately resulted in the Galwan Valley incident.

On No-Patrol Zones:

  • There is a possibility that no-patrol zones will only apply to areas where both sides have competing territorial claims.
    • Prior to 2020, patrols from each side would operate up to the extent of their respective claims, and in case of encountering each other; they would halt and display banners to signal the other side to retreat to their own area.
    • Subsequently, disputes were resolved through meetings held at one of the five predetermined border meeting points.
  • A Chinese journalist-scholar proposed that the concept of the "zone of actual control" could replace the "line of actual control" in some areas lacking obvious geomorphological features or population.
    • In addition, other areas could be defined as a "border belt" if they did not require population adjustments.
  • However, the success of the idea depends on the intentions of both sides. If the Chinese aim to use the imprecision of the LAC to keep India off balance, the proposal will not bring much change.
  • The idea echoes Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai's original proposal to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in November 1959, following the Kongka La incident in which ten Indian police personnel were killed and a dozen were captured.
    • Zhou suggested that both sides withdraw 20 kilometers from the "so-called" McMahon Line, as well as the "line up to which each side exercises control in the west" to quell the uproar.


  • The lack of clarity on the extent of Chinese control in the west has remained a key issue, as no detailed maps have been made available to clarify the matter.
    • This has allowed the Chinese to shift their position on the Ladakh border as they see fit, contributing to tensions between India and China.
    • However, despite these tensions, officials and ministers from both countries have been engaging in regular meetings.
  • The events of 2020 have shattered the trust built over the previous 27 years, from 1993 to 2020. As a result, the threshold for normalizing China-India relations has now risen significantly.

Source: The Hindu

Mains Question:

Q. Explain the significance of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China and how its ambiguity has led to border disputes between the two countries. Additionally, discuss the measures that can be taken to resolve the ongoing conflicts in the region. (250 words).

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