The Gloves are Off With China’s Highly Regressive Reference to 1959 LAC That Was Rejected by Nehru

The Gloves are Off With China’s Highly Regressive Reference to 1959 LAC That Was Rejected by Nehru

The gloves appear to have come off in the India-China standoff in eastern Ladakh. In response to a query by an Indian daily, on September 25, the Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement that the “China-India border LAC (Line of Actual Control) is very clear, that is the LAC on November 7, 1959. China announced it in the 1950s, and the international community, including India, are also clear about it”.

Four days later, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said, “China does not recognise the so-called Union Territory of Ladakh illegally established by India and opposes infrastructure construction in disputed border areas for military control purposes.”

Both these statements are a clear indication of the hardening Chinese stance and are like a red flag to the Indian government. The numerous rounds of talks at the military, diplomatic, and political levels appear to have had minimal impact on finding some common ground in resolving the Ladakh crisis.

The Chinese reference to the 1959 LAC is highly regressive. The 1959 LAC was first mentioned by the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in his November 7, 1959 letter to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Zhou proposed that “the armed forces of China and India each withdraw 20 kilometres at once from the so-called McMahon Line in the east, and from the line up to which each side exercised actual control in the west.”

In his reply on November 16, Nehru wrote, “We do not yet know with any precision where the frontier line lies according to the claims of the Chinese Government… An agreement about the observance of the status quo would, therefore, be meaningless as the facts concerning the status quo are themselves disputed.”

Another specific reference to the 1959 LAC came in the Chinese declaration of a unilateral ceasefire on November 21, 1962, signaling the end of the 1962 India-China war. Peking Radio announced that “Beginning from December 1, 1962 the Chinese frontier guards will withdraw to positions 20 kms behind the line of actual control which existed between China and India on November 7, 1959.”

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