India-China Border Row: No Talks On Scaling Down Of India’s Infra At Border

India-China Border Row: No Talks On Scaling Down Of India’s Infra At Border

7 May 2013
The Economic Times
Sruthijith K K

New Delhi: The Indian government's early diplomatic contacts with China on the border incursion was met with vague and ambivalent responses, leading the government to characterize the People's Liberation Army's unprecedented move to pitch tents in a disputed region in Depsang as a 'localized' event, a person familiar with the situation said. India consistently demanded status quo (as on 14 April) during the entire episode and prevailed eventually. Scaling down of India's infrastructure at the border or other restrictions were not discussed and India 'absolutely' did not agree to any quid pro quo for the eventual resolution, the person said. India agreed to remove a tin shed it had build some 8 kms towards the border from a post in Chumar after 14 April. This was in line with the agreement to maintain status quo as on 14 April, the person said. A border patrol team detected Chinese air sorties in the region on 15 April. India conducted its own air sorties soon after and found that Chinese troops had pitched tents in Depsang. The Indian Army immediately called the other side and asked that the tents be removed. This was not met with an encouraging response. On 16 April, Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary (east Asia), who heads the working mechanism on boundary issues, called his counterpart in Beijing but received a vague response. On 18 April, after foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai met Chinese ambassador Wei Wei in New Delhi, South Block concluded that the various points of contact in China didn't appear to be on the same page about the incident. The strategy then became to treat the incident as a 'localized' affair. At one point in the various rounds of diplomatic engagement between the two sides, India's ambassador in Beijing, S. Jaishankar told his interlocutors that the incident would impact bilateral ties unless an immediate resolution is found. China also calculated that the visit of Premier Li Keqiang, scheduled for 20 May, would have to be conducted under a cloud, if at all.