India and China are scheduled to hold a border mechanism meeting in Beijing this weekend to finalise the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), record forward movement on clarification of the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) and device new procedures to handle future face-off between the two armies.
While the bilateral strategic economic dialogue is presently on in Beijing, the meeting of working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs takes place on September 29-30, 2013. At this meeting, joint secretary (east Asia) Gautam Bambawalla will hold talks with director general (boundary) Ouyang Yujing to close the BDCA agreement so that it is ready for signing during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to Beijing on October 23 next month.
It is understood that the agreement is close to finalisation, but India is looking for dilution in the Chinese draft that calls for a ban on new structures being constructed within 20 km of the LAC. The border mechanism meeting will designate officers who will handle the hotline between Indian Directorate General of Military Operations (DGMO) and Peoples’ Liberation Army headquarters. The agreement is designed to foster confidence between the two armies. Since the last July border mechanism meeting, Delhi is pushing Beijing to finalise on a mutually agreed boundary line to rule out any repeat of Depsang face-off this April. India wants to set in place new mechanisms to handle face-offs on LAC between the armies.
Beijing feels that Delhi has expanded the number of disputed areas in the eastern Ladakh sector. In 1990s, according to Beijing, there were two mutually accepted disputed areas — Trig Heights and Demchok — but the number went up to 12 after India and China showed western sector maps to each other at the 12th meeting of the expert group on June 17, 2002.
India says that growth of bilateral relations is rooted in peaceful border and that PLA activity in Depsang and Chumar sector in the past two years has been an area of concern. It is for this reason that it wants to have an agreed line so that there is no option for any disagreement in future.