BDCA a signal by Chinese PLA `reaching out` to India

The border pact signed by India and China last month after the recent tensions may not be a "magic wand" to resolve disputes, but it was a signal by the Chinese PLA that it was reaching out to India.

New Delhi: The border pact signed by India and China last month after the recent tensions may not be a "magic wand" to resolve disputes, but it was a signal by the Chinese PLA that it was reaching out to India.

Speaking at a seminar, Gautam Bambawale, the joint secretary (East-Asia) in the External Affairs Ministry, noted that the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s visit to China was an initiative taken by the Chinese People`s Liberation Army and it was necessary to reciprocate the gesture.

"The BDCA is a signal by the PLA reaching out to India. It was they who thought that the agreement would be good. It was they who negotiated the agreement with us and not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China," said Bambawale, who was leading the negotiations on the Indian side.

He said the BDCA is "yet another major milestone" in ensuring that peace and tranquillity is maintained between India and China.

"No agreement has a magic wand and it is not that everything will be taken care of by one agreement. We will see how it works and operates in practise as time goes by," he said.

"And we have the agreements of 1993 and 1996 and the protocol of 2005. It is another agreement, which adds to everything that went ahead and also new dimensions to the fact that there are new situations on the ground."

The official said "it is an important signal that the PLA is reaching out to counterparts here”.

"This was one of the important reasons for India to reciprocate the feelers and try to reach to conclusion on border defence cooperation."

He added that contrary to media reports, there are no restrictions on troops or improving border infrastructure on both sides.

India and China had reached the comprehensive agreement BDCA to avoid border tensions and army face-offs along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by deciding that neither side will use military capability to attack the other side nor tail patrols along the border.

The deal came against the backdrop of strain in ties following a series of Chinese intrusions including the prolonged one by People`s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the Depsang valley in Ladakh in April this year.

Bambawale added that under the BDCA, both the countries will try to build a hotline on the lines of Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) hotline between India and Pakistan.

"The DGMO between India and Pakistan has worked reasonably well for many years. We could perhaps replicate that between India and China," he said.

The official noted that there are few "structural difficulties" in addressing the issues and both sides were working to sort them out.

"There is a structural difference between the two sides. Their problem is they don`t have any official called Director General of Military Operations. We will, however, continue to work on it and set up a hotline of senior officials between India and China," he added.

Bambawale stressed on improving trade relations between the two countries and said that in order to remove the trade imbalance, India was encouraging more FDI from China by setting up Chinese industrial areas.

India and China have a long-standing border dispute. In a stand-off between the PLA and the Indian Army in Depsang in Ladakh this year, Chinese troops had pitched tents on land claimed by both sides. In retaliation, India also put up tents in a forward position that was barely 200 metres from the Chinese forward tent.

In response to a question on China`s intensive involvement in Central Asia and visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bambawale said, "We have our relationship with these (Central Asian) countries.”

"The Chinese have their relationship with a set of countries. We are anyway not in the game of catching up with anyone including China."

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