India, China agree to stop tailing each other's border patrols

In a move to avoid occasional flashpoints in India-China border areas, New Delhi and Beijing have agreed that the soldiers of one country will not tail the patrols of the other along the disputed stretches of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Tailing of the patrols of one country by the soldiers of the other along the LAC had often heightened tension between the armed forces of India and China, particularly in the areas where the two countries have different perceptions about the alignment of the LAC.

According to diplomatic sources in New Delhi, the two countries discussed the proposal to avoid tailing of patrols when the first meeting of the “Working Mechanism” was held in Beijing in March 2012. Both countries agreed that tailing of patrols might disturb “peace and tranquility” along the LAC and lead to a flashpoint.

When senior diplomats and top military and security officials of India and China met again in New Delhi in November 2012 for the second meeting, they firmed up an agreement for avoiding tailing in the areas where the two countries had no common perception about the LAC.

Transgressions of Indian or Chinese patrols in each other’s territory are often caused by conflicting perceptions about the LAC.

Sources told Deccan Herald that when Indian soldiers patrolling the LAC had earlier transgressed into what China claimed as its territory, they had been stopped by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel. The PLA soldiers had then tailed the Indian patrol as long as it had been in the territory they perceived as Chinese. Indian soldiers had done the same when they had spotted Chinese troops coming into the area they perceived as part of India.

“There was always a risk that such actions by each other’s soldiers might result in a confrontation,” said a senior official. He added, “What has now been decided is that the soldiers of one country would not tail, but just ask the transgressing patrol of the other to stop and go back.”

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur recently informed the Lok Sabha that India and China have reached an agreement to put an end to the practice of tailing of the soldiers after setting up the “Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs.”

 “This measure contributes to the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the India-China border area,” she stated in a written reply to a question in the House.
India and China agreed to set up the “Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs” in January 2012, when the Special Representatives of the two countries—National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and his counterpart Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo—had the 15th round of talks on the boundary issue in New Delhi.

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