By Prarthana Mitra
Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met her Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe on Thursday to broach the possibility of defusing military tensions between the two nations.
Delhi: Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Defence Minister of China General Wei Fenghe hold delegation level talks pic.twitter.com/XVO3zmIL02
— ANI (@ANI) August 23, 2018
The decisions were based on the Wuhan summit in April between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese premier Xi Jinping, where they discussed “strategic guidance” for their respective armed forces, to manage confrontations during border patrol.
Here’s what they discussed
During delegation-level talks in New Delhi, both countries decided to work collectively towards improving interaction between local commanders stationed along the unresolved border zone. Sitharaman and Wei said with the better implementation of confidence-building measures and additional border personnel meeting (BPM) points, inter-troop confrontations could reduce.
“Troops from the two sides, for instance, interacted for the first time at Kepang La in Arunachal on August 15. A BPM point will also come up in Uttarakhand,” informed an anonymous sources privy to the talks.
Other initiatives to broker a more lasting cooperation include “early operationalisation” of the pending hotline between military headquarters in Beijing and New Delhi, greater engagement in terms of training, joint exercises and professional interactions, and a new bilateral MoU on defence exchanges to replace the 2006 accord.
As for the Line of Actual Control, which extends from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh through Tibet, a fresh agreement reinforced the need for restraint from both sides, in order to avoid a recurrence of the Doklam standoff last year, which saw 73 days of escalated threat and tension near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet crossroad.
China and India didn’t look eye to eye on a few things
Another source, however, informed that China reportedly dismissed India’s concerns about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India has, on multiple occasions, explained how the CPEC and its network of highways, corridors and energy projects, endanger the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country at large. Addressing these issues, the Chinese delegate reassured that the CPEC was not directed against any particular country but “aimed at overall growth of the region.”
China had a clear upper-hand over other crucial decisions as well, including helping India’s cause in ousting the Pakistan Liberation Army from Kashmir and designating Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist to the United Nations. On Thursday, China also flatly denied India’s bid to join the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The Chinese and Indian border patrol have been deployed for years, over 23 disputed and sensitive zones along the LAC, which each country claims belong to them. Amidst aggressive patrolling in what are heavily populated areas, Chinese troops have been responsible for over 426 transgressions of military protocol, since the Doklam incident.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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