Friday, April 26, 2013

China’s LAC push aims to make India sign pact?

NEW DELHI: Trying hard to get Chinese troops off Indian territory, the Indian government is planning a meeting at the joint secretary-level with China in the coming days. But officials are also expecting that China would use the opportunity to present India with a list of demands that New Delhi would have to fulfil to withdraw its troops. While Indian officials are preparing to make a simple demand to the Chinese to get off Indian soil, they apprehend that Beijing may have a set of its own demands in lieu for their withdrawal, many of which might be unacceptable for New Delhi, especially if they include dismantling of infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

In March, under the rubric of a defence cooperation agreement, the Chinese side proposed to India that they should share details of patrolling schedules by Indian troops on the border. India has refused, and is not keen to go through with the agreement. This current action by Beijing is being seen here as a way to push New Delhi to the table on this agreement.

Alternatively, if Chinese prove to be intractable about retracing their steps, India might have to escalate matters by opening up a different sector. Again, the apprehension within the Indian government is that this could be construed as an escalation. Therefore, if the Chinese troops refuse to move out, as a diplomatic step, India might feel compelled to cancel the Chinese premier\'s visit on May 20.

The government has taken a particularly diffident approach to the Chinese intrusion. The Chinese government once again reiterated on Thursday that it had not intruded into Indian soil. Given that there is a new leadership in Beijing that is much less flexible, Indian officials say it will be difficult for the Chinese to move back. That would create a very difficult diplomatic and political impasse, just when the Indian government was feeling they were entering into some sort of a comfort zone with China.

Incidentally, sources said, Chinese intrusions of this nature are not new. In Barahoti, Uttarakhand, Indian graziers have traditionally used the border areas as grazing pastures. But in the past couple of years, Chinese graziers, on the other side, have been accompanied by PLA personnel, who refuse to let the Indians use the grasslands, while keeping them for the Chinese. India protested, but sources said the Chinese refused to move out.

However, this time, the political compulsions on the government to act decisively would be much greater, not least because the incident is seen as unacceptable within the country, but also that with elections around the corner, the government would not want to be seen capitulating under Chinese pressure.
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