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Millennium Post

Towards inking a fresh chapter

After Manmohan Singh’s less than credible Russian trip, with the deal to bring the third and fourth units of the Kudankulam nuclear reactor falling through the cracks of the Indo-Russian ties and Moscow flagging the civil liability clause to backtrack, the Beijing deal is indeed a landmark development. Given the recent incursions into the line of actual control (LAC), with Chinese troops stationed for weeks inside Indian territories at Daulat Beg Oldi, Ladakh, the latest deal spells hope for both the nations and a chance to iron out the rough edges of the bilateral relationship. The BDCA signed between Singh and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, establishing a ‘hot line’ between the respective army headquarters with the right to seek clarifications about the other sides’ troops and military activities appears to be a watershed moment for both the countries. Indeed, a ‘friendlier’ turn in the ties, as envisaged by the leaders, would only be good for the Asian neighbours, who share a long border going into over four thousand kilometers along the snow-clad Himalayan peaks. The defence cooperation pact pledges for stability, tranquility and peace along the LAC and is beneficial for India since the border incursions have been dealing a bad blow to our global image, with strategic and defence observers touting India’s stand as almost pusillanimous and supine before the Chinese aggression.

However, there are caveats that must be kept in mind while discussing the so-called new chapter in the Sino-Indian ties. Essentially, the agreement that overhauls the previous mechanisms to ensure and maintain peace along the border, hinges on other pressing issues, including delineating the LAC, as well as contentions over disputed territories such as Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh. The BDCA will facilitate exchange of information on military exercises as well as unmarked mines and aircrafts flying into other’s territories, thereby minimising the chances of misinterpreting the other’s moves. Along with previous mechanisms that are in place, the new deal is intended to increase bonhomie at the ground level and prevent misunderstanding through joint celebrations and drills, thereby familiarising reach other with cultural and local peculiarities to avert sudden overreactions.

However, unless corresponding issues such as the liberalised visa regime as well as better trade relations are brought into the fray,  sorting out the border crisis alone might not be enough to normalise the ties, which currently are at a strategic low. Moreover, the troubled relations with Pakistan and incessant incursions along the line of control might now be handled more carefully following the example of the Sino-Indian border pact, given that one out of the two ‘all-weather’ friends has entered into an agreement vouching peace along the conflict zones. Pakistan clearly needs to take a lesson from their Chinese counterparts and seek a mutual resolution, without involving third parties.
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