DefenceIndian Army

On The China Impasse, One Need To Renegotiate Confidence-building Measures: Ex-northern Command Chief

Story Highlights
  • "Both sides must take the LAC's identity and current location seriously. "It will be a difficult, long, and torturous process," he added, "but it can help ease the situation."
  • The existing CBMS was part of five border pacts signed by India and China between 1993 and 2013, according to sources in India's diplomatic community.

Lieutenant General (retired) Deependra Singh Hooda, former chief of the Northern Command, said Wednesday that two years after tensions between the Indian Army and China’s People Liberation Army erupted in Eastern Ladakh and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 2020, there is still a need to renegotiate existing confidence-building measures (CBMs) in these areas.

“We need to discuss patrolling patterns and areas of infrastructure development,” says the author (in the region). “Perhaps it’s time to sit down and take a fresh look at this entire area of CBM, evaluate which areas have been causing friction for the previous five to six years, and try to fix these difficulties,” Hooda added.

The United Nations defines confidence-building measures as “planned procedures” carried out by countries in order to “avoid hostilities, avert escalation, reduce military tension, and establish mutual trust.”

Hooda made his remarks at the Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS) in Delhi during a panel discussion titled “2 Years of Crisis in Eastern Ladakh: Way Ahead.”

“Both sides must take the LAC’s identity and current location seriously. “It will be a difficult, long, and torturous process,” he added, “but it can help ease the situation.”

Former Indian ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale, Centre for Policy Research senior fellow Sushant Singh, and China Forum specialist Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, who previously served in the Chinese military, were among the other participants at Wednesday’s discussion.

While Bambawale focused on the historical significance of then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in 1988 in defining India-China relations for the next three decades, Singh discussed the current state and near-term prospects of India-China relations, and Bo discussed the border issue’s place in China’s overall foreign policy.

Hooda not first to talk of confidence building measures

According to ThePrint in 2020, Lt Gen Hooda is not the first to raise the subject of CBMs and whether they are outmoded.

Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in Moscow in September 2020 and agreed that “work to conclude new confidence-building measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquilly in the border areas” should be expedited.

The existing CBMS was part of five border pacts signed by India and China between 1993 and 2013, according to sources in India’s diplomatic community. Jaishankar had previously told Wang how Beijing had violated the 1993 and 1996 border agreements by amassing troops and heavy equipment along the LAC.

Sun Weidong, China’s envoy to India, stressed the need to “strengthen” these CBMs in April 2021 to guarantee that crises like the standoff do not occur again.

“It was like a soft management of (the border areas), intrusions were taking place, but no violence,” Lt Gen Hooda stated of the Army’s actions as part of these CBMs before to the May 2020 conflict. In Eastern Ladakh, we had over 50 border talks with the Chinese in 2015, some to report intrusions and others to discuss (management) of local festivals. “Unfortunately, everything has changed,” he remarked.

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