India on Tuesday said it has never accepted the “so-called unilaterally defined 1959 Line of Actual Control (LAC)” and that the insistence of the Chinese side that there is only one LAC is “contrary to the solemn commitments made by China” in the various bilateral agreements.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava was responding to a report in the Hindustan Times, which cited Chinese foreign ministry as saying that the country abides by the LAC as proposed by Premier Zhou Enlai to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in November 7, 1959.
The stand by China spelt out by its foreign ministry insisting that it takes the 1959 line on perception of the LAC amid a nearly five-month-long border standoff in eastern Ladakh has triggered a strong reaction from India.
“India has never accepted the so-called unilaterally defined 1959 Line of Actual Control (LAC). This position has been consistent and well-known, including to the Chinese side,” he said.
The MEA spokesperson mentioned bilateral agreements, including the 1993 Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the LAC, 1996 Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the military field, 2005 Protocol on Implementation of CBMs, 2005 Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for settlement of the India-China Boundary Question, wherein both “India and China have committed to clarification and confirmation of the LAC to reach a common understanding of the alignment of the LAC”.
Referring to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s recent address to Parliament, Srivastava said it is the Chinese side which by its attempts to transgress the LAC in various parts of the Western Sector has tried to unilaterally alter the status quo.
He also talked about repeated affirmation of the Chinese side in the last few months that the current situation in the border areas should be resolved in accordance with the agreements signed between the two countries.
“In the agreement reached between External Affairs Minister and his Chinese counterpart on 10th September also, the Chinese side has reiterated its commitment to abide by all the existing agreements,” Srivastava said.
“We therefore expect that the Chinese side will sincerely and faithfully abide by all agreements and understandings in their entirety and refrain from advancing an untenable unilateral interpretation of the LAC,” he added.
What is the LAC?
The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory. India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km. The major disagreements are in the western sector where the LAC emerged from two letters written by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to PM Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959, after he had first mentioned such a ‘line’ in 1956. After the 1962 War, the Chinese claimed they had withdrawn to 20 km behind the LAC of November 1959.
India rejected the concept of LAC in both 1959 and 1962.
Along the Line of Actual Control, the PLA has now occupied many areas which were earlier considered ‘disputed’, that is, lying between Chinese and Indian perceptions of the LAC.