March 2016 News

Fresh Incursions, Hotline, Boundary Agreement Top DM's China Visit Agenda

16 March 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Fresh incursions by People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China in Leh especially recent incident near Pangong lake, presence of Chinese troops in PoK and hotline connections at DGMO and Northern Command level were among the major issues that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was likely to take up with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan when he travels to Beijing on his maiden three days visit from April 18. Official sources told the Excelsior that the boundary agreement between India and China, which eluded the two neighbours even after several years, would be one of the core issues during discussions between the two Defence Ministers apart from giving boost to friendly ties the two countries now enjoy especially after opening up of one more Border Meeting Point (BMP) in Eastern Ladakh last year and first ever joint military exercises conducted by them in Leh on February 6. Sources said though there had been no major incursions by the Chinese troops in Ladakh during past couple of years, few incidents have been reported including the latest on March 8 when the PLA troops had intruded about couple of kilometers inside the Indian territory along Pangong lake but returned within a day after the matter was resolved by the Commanders of two sides at the local level. Sources said India wants an end to such kind of incursions though both sides admit that it was not possible to completely end these kind of incidents as the two neighbours share 4087 kilometers Line of Actual Control (LAC) between them, spread over five States, which hasn't been demarcated. 'The demarcation of the boundary is a long pending issue between India and China,' they added. Sources said the hotline connection between Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and China and Northern Army Commander and Lanzhou Military Region chief were also on agenda of the Defence Minister as this could help resolve the disputes along the LAC at the earliest. India and Pakistan DGMOs have similar hotline contact and they speak every Tuesday, or anytime in case of any emergency. Apart from DGMO level, the hotline has also been mooted between Northern Army Command of India and Lanzhou Military region chief of China to resolve the disputes, mostly incursions, in Eastern Ladakh. According to sources, increased movement of Chinese troops in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), which was recently witnessed opposite North Kashmir has also become cause of concern for India though it has been reported earlier also that Chinese troops were engaged in construction activities in PoK including roads and power projects. Sources said Parrikar, who is visiting China for the first time after taking charge of the Ministry on three days trip beginning April 18, is scheduled to hold extensive talks with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan, PLA top brass and other senior leaders of ruling party as well as Defence Ministry to increase defence cooperation between the two neighbours. India and China have Border Defence Cooperation Agreement high on agenda. Signed in 2013, the agreement was aimed at ensuring that any kind of face-offs between the two Armies were defused at local level itself. India and China have presently five Border Meeting Points including two in Ladakh Chushul and Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), Kibithu and Bum La (Arunachal Pradesh) and Nathu La (Sikkim). An additional BMP has been proposed for Uttarakhand, which though having long boundary with China, has no BMP between the two nations. A top-level Chinese military delegation led by General Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission had visited India in November while Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda and other top officers of the Command had visited China in December last year during which they had met top brass of PLA and visited Lanzhou Military region apart from the PLA Headquarters. Lt Gen Hooda's visit to China had gained importance after the neighbouring country had denied visa to his predecessor Lt Gen BS Jaswal in 2010 on the ground that he comes from the 'disputed region'.