Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Ensuring Stability and Peace on the Line of Actual Control (LAC)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: LAC

Mains level: Tensions on Line of Actual Control (LAC) and need for peace and stability


Central Idea

  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China has been a hotbed of tension and occasional clashes in recent years, posing a significant risk of escalation. Both countries have invested heavily in defensive preparedness and military infrastructure near the LAC. While a permanent solution may not be immediately achievable due to the complexity of the border dispute, short-term and pragmatic steps can be implemented to reduce the chances of conflict and foster peaceful coexistence

Inadequacies in Existing Agreements

  • Lack of Clarity on LAC: The agreements are based on the assumption that both parties have a clear understanding and definition of the LAC. However, in reality, there are significant segments of the border where the exact demarcation is disputed or lacks clarity.
  • Insufficient Mechanisms for Dispute Resolution: The 1993 Agreement called for the creation of joint mechanisms to verify and settle LAC-related disputes. However, it took 19 years for the establishment of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) in 2012. While the WMCC meets twice a year, its effectiveness in resolving disputes and preventing escalations on the ground has been limited.
  • Limited Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) Points: The LAC, which stretches for 3,488 kilometers, currently has only four established BPM points. The 2005 Protocol proposed the establishment of a BPM point at Lipulekh, but it has not been implemented.
  • Lack of Progress in Force Reduction and Redeployment: The agreements, such as the 1993 Agreement and the 1996 Agreement, envisioned a mutually agreed reduction and redeployment of forces along the LAC. However, there has been little progress in implementing these provisions. The absence of substantial force reductions contributes to the prevailing tensions and increases the risk of confrontations.

Facts for prelims

States Border with China Important Passes
Jammu and Kashmir 1597 km Khardung La Pass, Chang La Pass, Marsimik La Pass, Saser La Pass
Arunachal Pradesh


1126 km


Bum La Pass, Kibithu Pass, Tawang
Uttarakhand 345 km Mana Pass, Lipulekh Pass, Niti Pass
Sikkim 220 km Nathu La Pass, Jelep La Pass
Himachal Pradesh 200 km Shipki La Pass, Kaurik Pass

The Need for Effective and Immediate Measures

  • Fragile and Dangerous Situation: As stated by India’s External Affairs Minister, the situation along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh remains fragile and dangerous from a military assessment perspective. The potential for escalation and the risk of conflict are significant.
  • Escalation of Aggression: Following the Galwan crisis, there has been a significant mobilization of Chinese forces into Tibet, accompanied by heightened rhetoric and jingoism from both countries.
  • Complexity of Border Dispute: The border dispute between India and China, encompassing areas such as Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, is intricate and has deep historical and geopolitical roots. Achieving a permanent solution to the dispute may not be immediately feasible.
  • Uncertainty of War Outcomes: While there might be voices advocating for a more confrontational approach, it is essential to consider the potential outcomes of a full-fledged war. Despite assurances from the government, there is no guarantee that the results of such a conflict would be favorable to either India or China.

Proposed Steps for Peace and Stability

  • Conversion of LAC into a Line of Control (LC): Both India and China should delineate the LAC on maps and on the ground without prejudicing their respective border claims. This transformation would help reduce the urge among forward troops to make incremental advances and could be accomplished through mature dialogue and the use of technology.
  • Treatment of Disputed Areas as No Entry Zones or Joint Patrolling: The disputed areas along the LAC could be designated as no entry zones, preventing either side from establishing a permanent presence. Alternatively, both countries can explore the possibility of allowing mutually agreed-upon patrolling of these areas. Joint patrolling would help maintain the status quo and build confidence between the troops.
  • Strengthening Existing Confidence Building Measures (CBMs): The WMCC, established in 2012, should be empowered with more authority and resources to effectively address LAC-related disputes. Additionally, establishing more BPM points along the LAC would facilitate quicker resolution of local issues and enhance communication and cooperation between the Indian and Chinese troops.


  • The tense situation along the Line of Actual Control calls for immediate action to ensure stability and prevent the outbreak of a major conflict. It is crucial for both nations to prioritize dialogue, cooperation, and a commitment to regional stability in order to safeguard their own interests as well as those of the world, politically and economically.

Also read:

India-China clash: Why China has opened new front?


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