Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India-China: Border Management Mechanism


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-China border issues and management

Central Idea

  • India and China appear to be moving towards a new modus vivendi to maintain peace and tranquillity along their disputed 4,000 kilometre border. They are discussing measures to ease the border situation, including creating no-patrol zones along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and upgrading the border management mechanism.

Older arrangements and need for new measures

  • Blockades: In 2020, the older arrangements, shaped by the agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2013, came apart in Ladakh after the Chinese massed troops in Tibet and established blockades at six points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent Indian troops from patrolling the border.
  • Clashes: A clash at Galwan in June 2020 led to the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, the first such losses on the LAC since 1975. The Sino-Indian clash, in December 2022, at Yangtse, north-east of Tawang, suggests that new measures may be needed across the LAC, and not just in Ladakh.

Attempts to Ease the Border Situation

  • Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC): Important discussions that took place between Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China, met in Beijing for the 26th Meeting of the Working WMCC on China-India Border Affairs, on February 22, 2023. This was the first in-person meeting of the WMCC that had held the previous 11 rounds since the 2020 events by video conference.
  • Other Measures: Discussions have taken up the issue of upgrading the border management means to replace the WMCC with a mechanism that will have both military and civilian officers. The no-patrol zones could lead to a package settlement in the two remaining areas of Depsang and Charding Nala.
  • Confidence-building Measures: The entire range of confidence-building measures since 1993 was premised on the belief that both sides largely accepted the lay of the LAC, though they had differences that related to some 18-20 points on it. The 1993 and 1996 agreements specifically spoke about the importance of identifying and resolving these differences.
  • No-patrol zones: The no-patrol zones could be confined to the places where the two sides have overlapping claims. Chinese journalist-scholar Qian Feng suggested that the concept of the zone of actual control could replace the “line of actual control” in some areas that had no obvious geomorphological features or population.

The Idea of Shifting the Goalposts

  • The idea of creating no-patrol zones is an echo of the original proposal by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai following a similar set of circumstances experienced today.
  • In October 1959, an Indian police party was ambushed at Kongka La leading to the deaths of 10 personnel and the capture of another dozen.
  • Zhou proposed to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in a letter of November 7, 1959, that both sides withdraw 20 kilometers from the so-called McMahon Line, as well as the line up to which each side exercises control in the west.


  • Creating no-patrol zones along the LAC could be a possible solution to the border conflict, as well as upgrading the border management mechanism to include both military and civilian officers.

Mains Question

Q. Discuss the recent developments in the India-China border conflict and the measures being taken to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border

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