Amid the standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India and China on Wednesday held talks to ease the current border tension. The Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination (WMCC) talks between India and China took place virtually.
While this is the 19th WMCC meet since the mechanism came up in 2012, it is the fifth such meet amid the ongoing tension. At WMCC meets, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in Ministry of External Affairs Naveen Srivastava represents India. China is represented by Director General of the Boundary & Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This is the first WMCC meet since the foreign ministers of two countries met in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) earlier in September in which both sides agreed for disengagement to ease the tension.
During the talks the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the situation and agreed to earnestly implement the five-point consensus reached at the Moscow meeting in Russia between the two foreign ministers.
Both the nations decided to strictly abide by the border affairs agreement and agreement signed by the two countries, and take practical measures to promote the border situation. It was also agreed to further ease the cooling down and avoid any actions that may complicate the situation.
The two sides positively evaluated the results of the sixth round of commander-level talks and agreed to continue to maintain dialogue and consultations through diplomatic and military channels. They also agreed to hold the seventh round of commander-level talks as soon as possible.
It was decided to step up and properly handle remaining issues on the ground, and jointly maintain peace in the border areas.
After the Foreign Ministers meet, 6th corps commander level talks happened at the Line of Actual Control, and while disengagement by China is yet to happen, both sides agreed to “stop sending more troops to the frontline.”
WMCC is an institutional mechanism for consultation and coordination for the management of India – China border areas. During this meet, both sides exchange views on strengthening communication including on areas such as border security personnel of the two sides.
On September 29, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) asserted that India never accepted the so-called unilaterally defined 1959 Line of Actual Contro (LAC), adding that the position has been consistent and well known including to the Chinese. The MEA said India urged China to “sincerely and faithfully” abide by all “agreements and understandings in their entirety and refrain from advancing an untenable unilateral interpretation of the LAC”.
India and Chinese have been involved in commander talks ever since the Galwan Valley clash in June. On August 29-30, the Indian and Chinese troops were involved in another skirmish as the Indian side sought to push back the Chinese incursion amid the standoff at the border.
“As we have previously made clear, the Indian side has always respected and abided by the LAC. As Defence Minister stated in the Parliament recently, it is the Chinese side which by its attempts to transgress the LAC in various parts of the Western Sector, has tried to unilaterally alter the status quo,” it had said.
In the last few months, the Chinese side has repeatedly affirmed that the current situation in the border areas should be resolved in accordance with the agreements signed between the two countries. In the agreement reached between External Affairs Minister and his Chinese counterpart on September 10 also, the Chinese side has reiterated its commitment to abide by all the existing agreements, the MEA had added.
The MEA had added, “We therefore expect that the Chinese side will sincerely and faithfully abide by all agreements and understandings in their entirety and refrain from advancing an untenable unilateral interpretation of the LAC.”
“Under their various bilateral agreements including the 1993 Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the military field, 2005 Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for settlement of the India-China boundary question, both India and China have committed to clarification and confirmation of the LAC to reach a common understanding of the alignment of the LAC,” the MEA had said.
The MEA had further stated that the “two sides had engaged in an exercise to clarify and confirm the LAC up to 2003 but this process could not proceed further as the Chinese side did not show a willingness to pursue it”.
“Therefore the insistence now on of the Chinese side that they is only one LAC is contrary to the solemn commitments made by China in these agreements,” the MEA had asserted.