The Big Story: Border Personnel Meeting
The Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army held a Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) on the Chinese side at Bum La, Arunachal Pradesh on October 30. BPM was marked by the unfurling of national flags followed by a formal address by the delegation leaders and discussion of various issues between the two armies. “The mutual desire to enhance cooperation and cordial relations was evident from the conducive environment that prevailed during the proceedings,” said Guwahati-based defence PRO, Lt Col P. Khongsai.
A ceremonial BPM was also held between the two armies at Chushul Moldo and DBO-TWD meeting points in Eastern Ladakh. A cultural programme highlighting the strengthening relations at all levels and increasing bonhomie between the two nations was organised.
Wu Qian, the spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defence at his monthly press conference said that “Dragon Elephant Dance” is correct for China and India. “The Chinese military is willing to work with the Indian side to guide the differences between the leaders of the two countries, properly control differences, enhance mutual trust, and maintain and strengthen exchanges and cooperation in high-level exchanges, consultations and dialogues, professional cooperation, and joint training and joint training.” The relations between the two militaries have moved forward in the right direction of increasing trust and dispelling doubts and friendly cooperation, he added.
Since the signing of Border Peace and Tranquillity agreement between China and India in 1993, the BPM mechanism has evolved into a vital platform for resolving local issues. Amb. Shivsankar Menon’s book Choices: Inside the making of India’s foreign policy has an interesting chapter on the 1993 Border Peace and Tranquillity Agreement with China. He draws a correlation between the changing equations between India and China with domestic politics of the two countries in the late 1980s and the changing geopolitical situation internationally. This agreement was one of the big pushes for both countries to establish peace on the ground. It was a unique border agreement between China and India. The agreement formalised a bilateral commitment to maintaining the status quo on the border in an international treaty and delinked settlement of the boundary from the rest of the relationship. “The agreement spoke of military confidence-building measures to be mutually agreed to in the future, including restrictions on-air activity and limits on the size of military exercises near the LAC, and the possible redeployment of forces,” writes Amb Menon.
In the last 26 years, the BPM mechanism has helped foster confidence amongst the border guarding troops of India and China.
Hindustan Times reports that the two armies are for the first time patrolling Fish-Tail II, one of the 13 disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in south-east Arunachal Pradesh. This patrol is in coordination with each other in an attempt to build confidence and maintain peace along the border. Fish Tail-I and II are in the easternmost corner of Arunachal Pradesh. Fish Tail -I is largely glaciated terrain, and patrols from either side are few and far between. The reports claim that the proposal for joint patrolling was made by India at a high-level meeting in June in the run-up to the informal summit. “A coordinated patrolling would mean both sides would inform the other about their outgoing foot patrols, and the areas that the patrol is likely to go and the duration of the patrol,” report quoted an anonymous officer.
Fish-Tail -I &II are among the most remote areas along the LAC and India’s road infrastructure. India regularly sends patrols, while the PLA undertakes sporadic patrols in the region.