Sino-India border pact to reduce tensions on LAC

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 17:51

Beijing: The border pact inked between India and China on Wednesday facilitates establishment of a hotline between the military headquarters of the two countries, besides formalising understanding between border personnel not to tail each others` patrols along the disputed borders.

The Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) agreement will provide a mechanism for meetings between border personnel at designated places along Line of Actual Control (LAC) and between officers of the relevant military regions of China and army commands of India and between departments responsible for military operations.

The BDCA, signed after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, also says the two sides have agreed not to follow or tail patrols of the other side where there is no common understanding of the LAC.

The two sides will also meet to see how to strengthen communication between border personnel and military communication in all sectors, India`s Ambassador to China S Jaishankar, said at a media briefing.

The BDCA, the outcome of a series of talks following diplomatic tensions arising out of the Chinese troops pitching their tents at Depsang valley in Ladakh in April, says that the two sides may consider establishing a hotline between the military headquarters to facilitate communication at the highest level of the two militaries in times of crisis.

The two countries already have hotlines between the offices of the Prime Ministers.
Jaishankar said that troops of both sides will now get comfortable with each other.

About the military dimension, he said it would formalise understanding on the need not to tail or follow patrols of each others` side and if clarification is needed on an area where there is no common understanding, the higher ups will be consulted.

The aggressive patrolling often results in tensions.

"If you are in a face to face situation both sides will exercise maximum self-restraint," Jaishankar said.

The BDCA also says that in case a doubtful situation at the border arises either side has a right to seek a clarification from the other side.

It also stipulates that the two countries agree that if border defence forces of the two sides come to a face-to-face situation in areas of no common understanding, both sides exercise maximum self-restraint, refrain from any provocative action and not to use force or threaten to use force against either side, treat each other with courtesy and prevent exchange of fire or armed conflict.

The BDCA, which outlined a series of procedures to be followed by two countries along the about 4000 km long border, pending the settlement of the dispute facilitates exchange of information about military exercises, aircrafts, demolition operations and unmarked mines and take consequent measures conducive to the maintenance of peace, stability and tranquillity along the LAC.

Also the two sides agreed to jointly combat smuggling of arms, wildlife, wildlife articles and other contrabands besides assisting each other in locating personnel, livestock, means of transport and aerial vehicles that may have crossed or possibly in the process of crossing LAC.

Asked if the BDCA would limit each other`s right of building infrastructure near the LAC, Jaishankar said "the short answer is no".

"The longer answer is there is a specific mention of mutual and equal security which is there in all our earlier agreements. Essentially this means the recognition that the situation is asymmetrical. Each side will build its security in its own way," he said.

Asked as to in how many points there will be meetings of border and military personnel, Jaishankar said, the agreement has just been reached and there will be further discussions on a working mechanism to decide it.

To another question on how long the two countries will agree to disagree on the border issue, he said, there cannot be a timeline.

"At the moment we don`t have a timeline. But that can`t stop us from cooperating on issues and that is what we are working on. The foreign secretary level talks, the discussions between the two leaders -- both restricted and delegation-level - were extremely useful and constructive."

"We covered the entire gamut of relations on bilateral, regional and international issues. The Prime Minister has set out a three-point road for enhancing mutual trust, expanding exchange of communication in multilateral forums and the agreements that included BDCA and transborder rivers," Jaishankar said.

On the transborder rivers, a source of trouble between the two sides over China`s projects across Brahmaputra, the Ambassador said the expert level mechanism would provide for exchange of information on Brahmaputra and Sutlej.

Premier Li assured the Prime Minsiter that China would take up issues of concerns flagged by Singh in this regard.

Jaishankar said the relationship between India and China embodies relationship between 2.5 billion people of two old civilisations that are contributing to Asia`s resurgence and stability.

The scale, scope and important of the relationship is unmatched by any other relationship, he said.

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 13:28

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