India and China Develop Military-to-Military Ties Along Disputed Border


The Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army met in a ceremonial border personnel meeting on August 15, India’s Independence Day. The two sides met on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the boundary demarcating Chinese-administered land from Indian-administered land in the disputed regions of northeastern Kashmir. Specifically, the troops met in eastern Ladakh, near where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled last week and delivered a speech condemning Pakistan. According to The Hindu, a similar ceremony was held on the Chinese side of the border on August 1.

According to a public relations officer on the Indian side, Col. S.D. Goswami, “Both sides reiterated their commitment in upholding the protocols and agreements signed between the two countries and acknowledged that the peace and tranquility which prevails along the Line of Actual Control should be further strengthened and stabilized.” India and China signed a Border Defense Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) last October following a stand-off in April 2013 where a small contingent of Chinese PLA troops entered the Indian side of the LAC and set up camp for about three weeks. The BDCA was intended to swiftly resolve these sorts of incursions in the future.

According to the Wall Street Journal‘s Live Mint, the meeting was less administrative and more focused on fostering good military-to-military ties between the two sides. Both sides enjoyed “cultural and entertainment shows and sports events.” Col. Goswami noted that the “participation of Chinese delegation in India’s Independence Day celebrations is a gesture which will further foster friendly relations between India and China and build up mutual trust and confidence.”

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The effectiveness of this attempt at fostering better military-to-military ties between the border troops on either side of the LAC appears to be questionable given that Chinese troops allegedly entered 25 to 30 km into the Indian side of the LAC in Ladakh. According to Indian reports, “a patrol of Indian troops noticed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel on Sunday while moving from their base towards the higher ‘New Patrol base’ post in Burtse area of North Ladakh.”

Recently, the Chinese military acknowledged the April 2013 stand-off in the Depsang Valley for the first time, leading to hopes in India that future border incursions would be limited. Despite China’s acknowledgment of the incident, there was no official clarification of why the PLA troops set up camp on the Indian side of the LAC. The incident took place shortly before a scheduled visit to India by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

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