India China relations: The 73-day face off at Doklam on the Sikkim-Bhutan border between Indian and Chinese armies made the global headline.
India China relations: The 73-day face off at Doklam on the Sikkim-Bhutan border between Indian and Chinese armies made the global headline. However, that was the spark which was noticed by all. Under this garb, there was a significant increase in the number of Chinese transgressions into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). It has been learnt that number of faceoffs on the LAC has gone up by 48 per cent last year. There was 415 transgressions by Chinese soldiers into the Indian side of the LAC in 2017 as against 271 transgressions in 2016. The number of faceoffs when military patrols of the two countries come face-to-face in territory claimed by both countries also hiked to 216 in 2017 from 146 in 2016, according to Indian Express report.
There are 23 major areas of dispute on the LAC identified by the Indian side, where most Chinese transgressions take place and faceoffs occur. These include Demchok, Chumar, Pangong Tso and Spanggur Gap in Ladakh, Kaurik in Himachal Pradesh, Barahoti in Uttarakhand, and Namkha Chu, Sumdorong Chu, Asaphila and Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
Ashok Kantha, who retired as Indian ambassador to China in 2016 and handled border negotiations in various capacities over the past three decades, says, “The number of transgressions itself is not significant. We need the disaggregated data to understand the pattern of transgressions: are these happening in the usual disputed areas or are they new areas, are the Chinese coming deeper. Only then can we understand the significance of this rise in the number of transgressions.”
A top military officer, who has dealt with the China border in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, concurred: “The LAC is disputed, it is based on perception and every Chinese movement across our perception of the LAC is a transgression. It can be in water every time a Chinese patrol boat crosses a certain portion in Pangong Tso, or on the ground in contentious areas such as Chumar or Dibang Valley. It is clear from these numbers that the Chinese are coming more often.”
Lt General (retd) Vinod Bhatia, former Director General Military Operations, said: “If these numbers are correct, it means that China has definitely increased its patrols on the LAC. The number of transgressions can increase, and peace and tranquility and status quo will be under greater stress in future.”
Official data also shows that there have been 26 flag meetings, a part of the CBM, between India and China since June 2016. Flag meetings are border meetings between Brigadier-rank officers of the two armies at five designated points on the LAC.