Relationship with China has to be based on '3 mutuals': Foreign Secretary
- India has made it clear to China that peace and tranquillity in border areas is essential for the development of overall bilateral ties
- The relationship has to be based on the ""three mutuals"" of respect, sensitivity and interest
- These comments from Foreign Secretary came two days ahead of the 15th round of Corps Commander-level talks between India and China on the eastern Ladakh standoff
India-China border dispute
- The root cause of border dispute lies in an ill-defined, 3,440km (2,100-mile)-long border that both countries dispute.
- Four states Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand (erstwhile part of UP), Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh and Union Territories of Ladakh (erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir) share a border with China
- There is no mutually agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC) between both countries which separates India Controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory
- India claims that it is 3,488 km long while Chinese claim it to be 2,000 km long
- LAC is being divided in three sectors namely Western, Middle and Eastern sectors
- Western sector: Boundary dispute in this area of Ladakh pertains to Johnson Line proposed by the British in the 1860s
- It extended up to Kunlun Mountains and put Aksai Chin in the then princely Jammu and Kashmir.
- India used the Johnson Line and claimed Aksai Chin as its own.
- China, however, does not recognise it as it accepts the McDonald Line which puts Aksai Chin under its control.
- Middle sector: there is a minor dispute in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
- It is least controversial except for alignment followed in Barahoti plains.
- India and China have exchanged maps for this area on which they broadly agree.
- Eastern sector: the disputed boundary in this Sector is in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim
- Chinese representatives initiated the agreement on it but refused to accept it later
- The Tawang tract which was claimed by China was taken over by India in 1951.
- The Indian and Chinese armies were engaged in a tense stand-off at three points along the Line of Actual Control namely the Galwan River Valley, Hot Springs area and the Pangong Lake in 2020
- Even as India and China were engaged in military-level talks and in controlled engagement, there was a violent face-off between the army troops of both sides at Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh region.
- Border remains tense as reports say that China is upgrading and installing radars swiftly along the LAC.
Location of Galwan River Valley, Hot Springs area and the Pangong Lake
- Galwan Valley: It refers to the area between the Galwan River and the steep mountains that surround it.
- The river has its source in Aksai Chin, on China’s side of the LAC, and it flows from the east to Ladakh, where it meets the Shyok river on India’s side of the LAC.
- Strategic importance: The valley is located between Ladakh in the west and Aksai Chin in the east, which is currently controlled by China as part of its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
- Pangong Tso lake: it is located in Ladakh.
- It is situated at a height of almost 4,350m and is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
- Its one-third part lies in India and the other two-thirds in China.
- Hot Spring: this area is situated north of the Pangong Tso lake and south east of Galwan Valley.
Disengagement process since standoff
- India and China have undertaken 14 rounds of military negotiations for disengagement and de-escalation in Eastern Ladakh since the standoff had began
- In all of these talks, India's goal has been to restore the status quo of April 2020.
- Both sides have agreed to disengage from the finger regions on the North Bank of the Pangong Tso.
- Both sides have also emptied the heights of the Kailash ranges on the South Bank, which were advantageous to the Indian Army.
- China has a platoon-sized strength of troops on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at PP15 at Hot Springs.
- Chinese troops are blocking Indian soldiers from accessing their traditional patrolling limits at PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12 and PP13 in Depsang Plains, which is close to India’s strategic Daulat Beg Oldie base in the north.
- However, disengagement discussions in Gogra and Hotsprings, as well as Demchok and the crucial Depsang Valley, have made little progress.