Context: Recently, India and China held talks between their foreign ministries and agreed to follow a consensus that differences should be handled peacefully and should not become disputes, in the highest-level diplomatic engagement since tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) erupted in early May.
Key Highlights of joint statement issued:
- Both sides agreed to handle their differences through peaceful discussion bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other's sensitivities, concerns and aspirations and not allow them to become disputes.
- The two sides “reviewed the state of bilateral relations including the current developments”.
- Military level talks will be held by two Lieutenant Generals on Saturday with the hope of defusing the border tensions, with stand-off situations and heavy deployments reported in at least four spots on the LAC.
- Both also exchanged views on the challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and cooperation in multilateral forums.
- It also called for enhancing strategic mutual trust and properly managing differences. Both sides discussed planned initiatives to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations and ensure the relationship would be steered in the right direction.
- Differences: The Chinese statement mentioned “the two countries should oppose politicising the epidemic situation” and “support the World Health Organization”. This was not mentioned in the MEA’s readout.
Efforts made earlier to resolve the issues
- Summit level meetings: Two summit-level retreats between Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi — at Wuhan in 2018 and near Chennai in 2019 — raised expectations for more enduring solutions.
- Clarification on LAC: India has long proposed an exercise to clarify differing perceptions of the LAC to prevent such incidents. Maps were exchanged in the Middle Sector, but the exercise fell through in the Western Sector where divergence is the greatest. China has since rejected this exercise.
- India’s argument is rather than agree on one LAC, the exercise could help both sides understand the claims of the other, paving the way to regulate activities in contested areas until a final settlement of the boundary dispute.
- Protocols for troops to handle such incidents: According to the 2005 protocol on modalities for implementing confidence-building measures, neither “shall use force or threaten to use force” and “both sides shall treat each other with courtesy and refrain from any provocative actions”.
- The 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement said patrols “shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding” of the LAC.
- It called for both sides to “exercise maximum self-restraint, refrain from any provocative actions, not use force or threaten to use force against the other side” in face-offs.
Image Source: times now