India-China talks: India to seek restoration of Status Quo along the LAC, say experts

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Published: June 5, 2020 1:54 PM

A better perception of the LAC and activities permitted there needs to be evolved at a political and diplomatic level.

Withdrawal of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China from “Finger 4” area in the north of Pangong Tso and Gogra on the edge of a flat plateau called Hot Springs will be the focus of the Indian Army.

In its military-led negotiations with China at Chushul-Moldo border scheduled for Saturday (June 6), India will definitely raise some of the issues which are crucial to an amicable resolution of the current standoff. “The first and foremost is the restoration of the state of affair at the LAC as it existed previously,” opine experts.

Talks with China on Saturday

So far the talks between the Indian and Chinese commanders are scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 6, 2020.

India has its agenda for talks ready which will focus on seeking restoration of Status Quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. According to sources, the agenda for Saturday has been readied after consultations with the Director General Military Operations, the Northern Command and the Leh-based 14 Corps.

Withdrawal of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China from “Finger 4” area in the north of Pangong Tso and Gogra on the edge of a flat plateau called Hot Springs will be the focus of the Indian Army.

As has been reported, the two sides have different perceptions of the LAC in these areas. Troops of both armies do not hold ground in the disputed area along the LAC. They come for patrol and return. This is as per the existing framework management between the two countries.

The third location which is a major cause for tension between India and China is in Galwan. In Galwan, India is clear that it wants Chinese troops to vacate the occupied positions, as this was one location where the LAC was undisputed. There are no posts in the area. Again, only patrolling is allowed.

According to sources, all the heavy artillery guns and heavy armour which China has moved into various locations in the Aksai Chin area or all along the 826-km-long Line of Actual Control, India will seek that it all be moved back.

The meeting is going to be on the Chinese side of the Chushul-Moldo meeting point. While Chushul is on the Indian side, the Moldo is on the Chinese side and is around 2 km apart.

What do experts say?

Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU, “There were reports that some of the Chinese troops blocked India’s patrolling in Pangong Tso area. Indian army used to have access till Finger 8, but now they are not allowed beyond Finger 4. Second, China has brought in reinforcements in PangongPso and Galwan Valley. India as a follow up has also deployed artillery and troops in these areas. Third, the issue of construction behind the LAC is likely to figure in any future negotiations between China and India. As is evident, the spark for the present standoff was Dabruk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Olde and a few connecting feeder roads. In an environment of high suspicion and mistrust, any such construction is likely to flare up tensions between the two countries. And finally, the concerns about occasional clashes and the possibility of violence at the border.”

“These issues will figure prominently in the discussion between the two military commanders. The problems of occasional clashes, transgressions and a code of conduct for troops deployed at the border can be handled with dexterity by the military commanders. However, the concerns related to construction at the border need to be discussed at a political level. A better perception of the LAC and activities permitted there needs to be evolved at a political and diplomatic level,” Prof Rajan opines.

According to him, “At a time when both the countries are struggling with the monstrous pandemic, there is no reason why they should drain their resources towards futile military confrontations. The successful working mechanisms that we have evolved over the last few decades for managing the border with China have served us well and need to be strengthened to avoid standoffs in future.”

Says Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, School of International Studies, JNU “We can hope we would resolve this through talks. But India should not settle for anything less than a complete reversal of China’s recent changes at the LAC. Moreover, even if China agrees, India needs to be watchful because China has a habit of agreeing to withdraw, then subsequently returning and engaging in the same kind of behaviour. This also means that India has to be on the watch and develop tactics to prevent China from continuing to engage in salami-slicing tactics. This is difficult for India to respond to, but New Delhi needs to figure out how to handle such tactics in the future.”

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