India approaches China bilaterally


Talks with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) could take much longer, drawing a parallel to a similar military stand-off in Arunachal Pradesh’s ‘Sumdorong Chu’ in 1986 that took nearly nine years to resolve.

  • Adding that India and China must take a “long view” of the border dispute and not just the “incidents” at the LAC this year, a caution to Beijing against dealing with India through the prism of a “third party”, in a reference to India’s close ties with the United States.
  • It is necessary to remember the Sumdorong Chu crisis of 1986. Several years of talks were fruitless before the two armies, which were eyeball to eyeball in the Tawang region, disengaged in 1995. 
  • In between, the two sides signed the breakthrough 1993 agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control.
  • The bottom line is that China has violated past agreements by amassing troops at the border and that if “peace and tranquillity” at the border is disturbed the rest of the India-China relationship is affected.
  • India had undertaken an “enormous military response” in reaction to the Chinese deployment.
  • Reports of Chinese occupation of land in Depsang and north Pangong Tso did not set out “the totality of the ground picture fairly”.
  • The bottom line right now is that we have bilateral agreements that commit both countries not to amassing a large number of forces along the LAC. 
  • The second aspect of it is that the progress in our bilateral ties have been very much predicated on peace and tranquillity along the LAC. If that is disturbed, as has been the case this year, then obviously, the rest of the relationship cannot be unaffected.
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