|The Zorawar Fort, near Demchok occupied by China|
It raises an important question: will the Indian Defence Secretary R K Mathur, when he receives Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, discuss an exchange of maps in Ladakh/Aksai Chin?
Probably not! It is a pity.
According to PTI, “The talks are expected to cover defence exchanges, joint military exercises as well as steps to increase confidence building measures between the two forces in the light of the signing of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA).”
A fourth round of military exercises, to be held in India, should also be discussed.
The Defence Dialogue will be followed by a Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) on March 18-19. The Indian delegation will be headed by Deputy Chief of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Regarding the Defence Dialogue, the Indian Defence Secretary will probably be too shy to raise the issue of exchanging maps showing the Indian and Chinese ‘perceptions’ of the Line of Actual Control.
In any case, Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong would certainly say that he is not in a position to supply proper maps of Beijing’s ‘perceptions’.
However, an article in The People’s Daily recently boasted of high quality of 3D topographic maps available in Lanzhou Military Area Command, which looks after the Ladakh front, particularly places such as Daulat Beg Oldi, Chumar or Demchok.
The People’s Daily reported: “Chinese military has unveiled its world advanced three-dimensional (3D) topographic map of Lanzhou city”.
It explained: “A measuring and mapping information center under the Lanzhou Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) used world-advanced 3D printing technology in the topographic map-making and successfully developed China’s first 3D topographic map on November 20, 2013.”
Rest assured that the maps are not for Lanzhou City only.
This practically means that the Chinese troops posted in the Aksai Chin and other parts of Ladakh possess the most accurate maps of these disputed areas. The Communist mouth piece affirmed: “Compared with the traditional man-made sand tables, the latest 3D topographic map has lighter weight and portability. Obsolete maps were used as the printing materials instead of professional and expensive printing materials such as gypsums. It has cut down the cost to the maximum and made the map highly promotable [portable?].”
The People’s Daily, quoting an official of the Lanzhou MAC, further asserted: “The 3D topographic map can provide accurate and reliable basis for military topographic analysis, for commanders to make decisions and for troop units to carry out their missions, thus it possesses high military application values.”
Wang Mingxiao, the director of the research team told the Chinese newspaper: “The research team had been dedicated to upgrade the map by improving the precision of the A4-sized 3D topographic map from the previous 1.0 mm to present 0.1 mm, and shortening the printing time from the previous 24 hours to 8 hours. They also expanded the scope of the 3D topographic map as well.”
However Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong is bound to tell the Indian Defence Secretary that China can’t provide maps of what it 'perceives' as China’s Line of Actual Control.
Beijing still believes that its interests are better served, if confusion over the LAC continues to prevail.