|Colombo Conference Map (1963) |
The 6 passes named in the 1954 Agreement are shown
Apparently concrete steps were agreed after an Indian delegation headed by the Joint Secretary (East Asia) visited Beijing earlier this week.
A few days before, Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, the Chinese deputy chief of general staff (Operations) headed a PLA delegation to India, where he met his Indian counterpart, the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO).
New CBMs were agreed during the visit.
Last October already, when the Indian Prime Minister went to Beijing, India and China signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement to avoid dangerous face-offs along the LAC between the troops of the two countries. It included mechanisms to maintain peace and tranquility along the 'actual' boundary.
At the DGMO level, new CBMs have now been added.
The Indian DGMO will be connected to his Chinese counterpart through a hotline in order to tackle immediate, 'hot' issues and resolve 'misunderstands' at an early stage, before the situation could escalate into a serious conflict.
Further, it was decided to have four new locations for flag meetings in Ladakh - Track Junction, Panggong Tso (lake), Demchock and Chumur.
In recent month, these places have witnessed several intrusions/incursions by Chinese troops, leading to an increased tension on the 4,000-km long LAC.
During the Joint-Secretary level in Beijing, the number of locations for scheduled annual meetings between senior field officers, called Border Personnel Meetings, was increased from two to four.
Kibithoo in Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh and Mana Pass in Uttarakhand are the 2 new locations.
Earlier Nathu-la in Sikkim and Bum-la in Arunachal (Tawang district) were the only meeting points.
During these Border Personnel Meetings, the troops of both countries meet at least four times a year to mark the national days of their respective countries and celebrate other national festivals; on these occasions, Indian and Chinese soldiers play games together (volley-ball, tug-of-war, for example) and socialize. The Chinese troops are said to be very fond of Gold Flakes cigarettes.
All this does not stop India to strengthen its defences in Ladakh.
Since lats year's stand-off in Depsang, India has moved an additional infantry brigade of 3,000 troops into Ladakh to secure the Sub-Sector North, which includes the Depsang plains. India has also, for the first time, moved a regiment of tanks to support the existing deployment.
What is interesting is that are very few places along the LAC where these Border Personnel Meetings can take place.
A location needs to be deserved by a proper road (from both sides) and the border pass or location should not be 'disputed', which is not the case of Demchok or Shipki-la, where China claims areas which have never been hers (or even part of Tibet) in the past.
Historically, India was fooled by China in 1953-54, when the (in)famous Panchsheel was negotiated.
I am posting here, the Indian version of the facts.
The Chinese version is different.
By designating 6 passes in the Middle Sector, P.N. Kaul (another Nehru's blue-eyed Kashmiri Pandit), thought he was cleverly 'fixing' the border.
It was not so, said the Chinese; it is merely 6 passes through which traders or pilgrims of both countries can transit.
The Indian delegation was surprised by this interpretation, but the Chinese reiterated their position again and again.
Though they were right the 1954 Agreement was not about fixing borders, but designating trade 'routes', they shamelessly fooled the Indians who could have used the occasion to bring the border issue on the negotiating table. It was not done; the Indian diplomacy was too enamoured of the lofty Principles.
Soon after the signature of the 1954 Agreement, Shipki-la, one of the designated pass, was claimed by China. It is still so today.
The case of Demchok too, was not taken seriously by T.N. Kaul, though for centuries, DEmchok had been the first village in Ladakh for the Tibetan traders and pilgrims traveling from Western Tibet (Tashigang village was the last village in Tibet).
Now, China says that Demchok is Chinese.
Once again, a sad tale of poor Indian diplomacy.
Extracts from the Report of the Officials of the Governments of India and the Peoples’ Republic of China on the Boundary Question (1961)
...On none of these occasions did the Tibetan Government object to the alignment as described, and shown on maps, by the Indian Government.
So they all constituted formal acceptances of the Indian alignment.
On 21 August 1950, the Foreign Minister of China handed a note to the Indian Ambassador in which it was stated, among other things that the Chinese Government "is happy to hear the desire of the Government of India to stabilise the Chinese Indian border". This assumed that the boundary was well-known and recognised by both sides, because only such a fixed boundary can be stabilised. The Government of India made this even clearer in their reply, handed to the Foreign Minister of China by the Indian Ambassador on 24 August 1950. For there the Government of India stated clearly "that the recognised boundary between India and Tibet should remain inviolate."
The traditional boundary from Shipki pass to the tri-junction of India, Nepal and Tibet was also confirmed in the Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between India and the Tibet Region of China signed in April 1954 Article IV of the Agreement stated:
"Traders and pilgrims of both countries may travel by the following passes. (1) Shipki La Pass, (2) Mana Pass, (3 Niti Pass, (4) Kungribingri Pass, (5) Darma Pass and (6) Lipu Lekh Pass."Shipki Pass lies on the Zanskar Range which forms the watershed between the eastern and western tributaries of the Sutlej; and the other five passes lie on the watershed dividing the Sutlej and Ganges basins. In the original Chinese draft presented on 1 March 1954, Article IV read:
"The Chinese Government agrees to open the following mountain passes in the Ari District of the Tibet Region of China for entry by traders and pilgrims of both parties:The Indian delegate, Mr. T.N. Kaul, contended that these were Indian passes. At the plenary meeting held on 22 April, 1954, the leader of the Chinese delegation described these discussions and the results which followed:
(1) Shipki, (2) Mana, (3) Niti, (4) Kungribingri (5) Darma and (6) Lipu Lekh.''
"With regard to Article IV of the original Chinese Draft Agreement, it was stated that "the Chinese Government agrees to open the following passes".Mr. Kaul expressed the difference of opinion with regard to this point. Now we have changed it to read that 'Traders and pilgrims of both countries may travel by the following passes.' This was the fifth concession on our part."
This was an acceptance by the leader of the Chinese Delegation that the Chinese Government had agreed to re-draft this article in such a manner as to make clear that they were border passes. The use of these six passes did not involve ownership because they were border passes.
At the 17th meeting at Peking, the Chinese side stated that the negotiations and Agreement of 1954 did not involve at all the question of delimiting the boundary between the two countries. This was a correct statement of the facts. Certainly the Indian side had no intention of seeking fresh definition of a boundary which had already been delimited by historic process, and was a natural, traditional and customary boundary, well-recognized for centuries; by both sides. But this did not mean that the negotiations and Agreement had no bearing on the boundary question. If the Chinese Government were at all serious about their claims to what have always been parts of Indian territory, and shown as parts of India on Indian maps, they would have, during the negotiations, at least made references to these claims, if not discussed them. When at the first meeting of the delegations Premier Chou En-lai said that the relations between China and India were becoming closer every day and that from among the outstanding questions, the two sides could settle questions which were ripe for settlement, the Indian Ambassador immediately pointed out that there were only small questions pending between India and China, and he wished to see nothing big or small remaining outstanding between the two countries.
Premier Chou En-lai replied that two large countries like India and China with a long common frontier were bound to have some questions, but all questions could be settled smoothly. In the context in which Premier Chou En-lai made this last statement it could not be inferred that he had in mind Chinese claims to large areas of Indian territory which had been shown as parts of India in official Indian maps and had been administered for centuries by the Government of India. Throughout the negotiations the Indian delegation took the line that all questions at issue between the two countries were being considered and that once this settlement had been concluded, no question remained.
In his speech of April 29, 1954, after the signing of the Agreement, the leader of the Indian delegation stated:
"We have gone through fully the questions that existed between our two countries in this Tibetan Region",thus indicating that according to India no dispute or question was left over.
At the meeting of 8 January 1954, the Vice-Foreign Minister of China, who was the leader of the Chinese delegation, stated:
"I recall that Premier Chou En-lai when he received the Indian Delegation on 31st December 1953, stated that the principles governing the relations between India and China should be to seek a peaceful co-existence under the principles of mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence."The leader of the Indian Delegation, after securing a repetition of the Five Principles by the leader of the Chinese Delegation, replied:
"These were the principles which our Prime Minister had also advocated. As far as I can see these are common ground."These Five Principles were incorporated in the Preamble of the Agreement. Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity assumed clear and precise knowledge of the extent of each other's territory. Two states with a common boundary could promise such respect for territorial integrity and mutual non-aggression only if they had a well-recognized boundary. The Government of India had been showing the traditional alignment on their official maps, and stated authoritatively on many occasions that that was their boundary.
The Chinese Government had also been informed that this boundary should remain inviolate. In these circumstances; the Government of China could not have affirmed their respect for the territorial integrity of India if they did not recognize the Indian alignment and had in mind claims to large areas of Indian territory.
It was, therefore, clear that the Agreement of 1954 recognised that the six passes were border passes, that during the negotiations the Chinese made no reservations regarding this point, and that by accepting the Five Principles without any qualifications the Chinese Government had accepted that there was no dispute regarding the traditional and well-recognised Indian boundary alignment. It might be added that as the Chinese Government did not raise this issue when they had a clear opportunity and occasion to do so, under international law they were now estopped from raising such claims.
From the same report, Chinese claims
(2) The Area West of Shipki Pass
In the vicinity of Shipki Pass, the traditional customary line is at the Hupsang Khud which is west of this pass. The pastures between the Hupsang Khud and the pass have always belonged to China's Shipki village and had been places where the villagers of Shipki village had constantly pastured and mowed grass, before being occupied by India in 1957.
In the part relevant to Shipki village in the avowal of 1930 of the various districts of Tsaparang Dzong concerning the boundary, it is stated: "The boundary between the people of Shipki and the frontier people of the Kulu in the west follows the crest of the Kularatsi beyond Shipki from the north up to Tso Kam (dried lake), then along the ridge from the crest of Pashagangri to Dongtogtog; the area between the Hupsang Khud and the Siangchuan River indisputably belongs to the (Tibetan) Government."