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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Slow steps to India-China border tranquility


Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Current events of international importance(LAC, Macmohan line, Galwan, 1962 war etc)
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India, Significance of Indo-Pacific for India etc



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

Current Affairs




  • In 2020, the older arrangements, shaped by the agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005, and 2013, came apart in Ladakh after the Chinese massed troops in Tibet
    • They established blockades at six points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent Indian troops from patrolling the border.
  • A clash at Galwan in June 2020 led to the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, the first such losses on the LAC since 1975.
  • The Sino-Indian clash(2022) at Yangtse, north-east of Tawang, suggests that new measures may be needed across the LAC, and not just in Ladakh.


Dispute between India and China in 1950’s:(territorial dispute):

  • Whole of Aksai Chin claimed by India
  • Whole of NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh) is claimed by China.


Present disputes:

  • Western sector (Ladakh)(China is seeking claims).
    • Trig Heights in the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) area
    • Demchok in the south
    • The Depsang Bulge
    • Galwan
    • Pangong Lake and Hot Springs
  • Middle (central sector):
    • Barahoti pasture north of Chamoli in Uttarakhand
  • Eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh):
    • The international boundary and the LAC are defined by the 1914 McMahon Line
    • China seeks to make inroads:
      • Tawang sector
      • Upper Subansiri region
      • Tri-junction with Myanmar.


Attempts to ease the border situation

  • Joint Secretary of the East Asia Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China: met in Beijing for the 26th Meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on China-India Border Affairs.
    • WMCC had held the previous 11 rounds since the 2020 events by video conference.
  • In the last three years, through patient negotiation: Two sides managed to disengage in four of the six points — Galwan, Pangong Tso, Gogra Post, and near Jianan Pass (PP15).
  • Key areas that remain unsettled
    • Depsang Bulge
    • Charding Ninglung Junction in the Demchok area.


Measures before:

  • Till 2020, both sides patrolled till the limit of these contending claims and there was a protocol that if the two patrols met, they would stop and display banners to ask the other side to go back to their area.
  • The issue was dealt with through meetings at one of the five designated border meeting points.

Proposals so far to end the dispute:

  • Converting other parts of the LAC into similar no-patrol zones.
    • This could lead to a package settlement in the two remaining areas of Depsang and Charding Nala.
  • Upgrading the border management means to replace the WMCC with a mechanism that will have both military and civilian officers.
  • Confidence-building measures since 1993.
    • Though differences related to some 18-20 points on it.
  • The 1993 and 1996 agreements specifically spoke about the importance of identifying and resolving these differences.
  • No patrol zones could be confined to the places where the two sides have overlapping claims.
  • Chinese journalist-scholar Qian Feng suggested that the concept of the “zone of actual control” could replace the “line of actual control” in some areas that had no obvious geomorphological features or population.
    • Other areas, too, could be delimited as a “border belt” if they did not require population adjustment.
  • Zhou proposed to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959 that both sides withdraw 20 kilometers from the ”McMahon Line”, as well as the “line up to which each side exercises control in the west”.



  • The LAC between India and China, is frequently open to challenge by either side.
  • Areas along the LAC have been patrolled by both sides in the past.
  • The Chinese ingress in Sumdorong Chu valley in the Tawang sector in 1986-87 resulted in a close confrontation that lasted eight years.
  • In 1995, two sides pulled back: India relocating its Jaya and Negi posts on the south side of the Hathungla-Lungrola ridgeline.


Way Forward

  • Despite tensions, Indian and Chinese Ministers and officials have been meeting with each other regularly;
    • India’s External Affairs Minister met his Chinese counterpart earlier this month on the sidelines of the G-20 Foreign Ministers meeting in New Delhi.
  • External affairs minister: Chinese inability to deliver on what the two sides had agreed on in 2020 had left their ties “fragile” and “quite dangerous”.
  • The Prime Minister tried to persuade the Chinese to clarify the LAC at the points where there were differences.
    • The Chinese ignored his proposals.
    • The bar for normality in China-India relations is now much higher.
  • Diplomatic talks: Since the Galwan incident, the two sides have disengaged at multiple friction points even as military and diplomatic talks continue to find a way out of the impasse at Depsang and Demchok.



Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is transforming itself into a trade block from the military alliance, in present times. Discuss (UPSC 2020) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)