India and China need to have substantive conversations on ties

Syllabus:  India and its neighborhood- relations.


India and China have once again come away from their talks with starkly different views of their ties.

Story so far

  • The only talking point from last week’s brief conversation between Indian Prime Minister and Chinese President on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit revolved around not what was said between them
  • Which remains largely a mystery as is the way of “informal” conversations — but how it was said.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) released no statement on the talks, although Foreign Secretary told reporters on August 24 that both had “underlined that the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas and observing and respecting the LAC are essential for the normalization of the India-China relationship
  • He added that they had decided to “direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation”.


  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the de facto border between India and China.
  • It is a notional demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory in the Sino-Indian border dispute.
  • The LAC is not a legally binding agreement, and there are many areas along the border where the two countries disagree on where the line lies
  • The LAC was first used in a 1959 letter from Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Zhou proposed that the two countries withdraw their troops 20 kilometers from the line up to which each side exercised actual control.
  • Nehru rejected this proposal, but the term “Line of Actual Control” came to be used to refer to the line that existed at the time.
  • The LAC is about 3,488 kilometers long and runs through the Himalayas, the Karakoram Mountains, and the Aksai Chin plateau.
  • It is a very rugged and inhospitable terrain, making it difficult to demarcate and patrol.
  • There have been several armed clashes along the LAC, including the 1962 Sino-Indian War.
  • In recent years, there have been a number of incidents of Chinese and Indian troops engaging in face-offs along the border.

The LAC remains a major source of tension between India and China. The two countries have been holding talks to try to resolve the border dispute, but no agreement has been reached so far.

Here are some additional facts about the Line of Actual Control:

  • The LAC is divided into three sectors: the eastern sector, the middle sector, and the western sector.
  • The eastern sector is the most disputed, with India and China claiming different parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The middle sector is less disputed, but there are still some areas where the two countries disagree on where the line lies.
  • The western sector is the least disputed, but there is still an area of contention in the Aksai Chin plateau.
  • The LAC is not marked on any maps, and it is not demarcated on the ground.
  • The two countries have agreed to maintain peace and tranquility along the LAC, but there have been several incidents of military standoffs in recent years.

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