Line of Actual Control
The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a disputed notional demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory in the Sino-Indian border dispute. The term is said to have been used by Zhou Enlai in a 1959 letter to Jawaharlal Nehru. It subsequently referred to the line formed after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, and is part of the Sino-Indian border dispute. India does not consider valid Chinese claims related to the LAC and says that the 1959 claim was not mutually accepted. Amidst the 2020 China–India skirmishes, India once again rejected Chinese claims of the LAC.
There are two common ways in which the term "Line of Actual Control" is used. In the narrow sense, it refers only to the line of control in the western sector of the borderland between the Indian union territory of Ladakh and Chinese Tibet Autonomous Region. In that sense, the LAC, together with a disputed border in the east (the McMahon Line for India and a line close to the McMahon Line for China) and a small undisputed section in between, forms the effective border between the two countries. In the wider sense, it can be used to refer to both the western line of control and the eastern line of control, in which sense it is the effective border between India and the People's Republic of China (PRC).
The entire Sino-Indian border (including the western LAC, the small undisputed section in the centre, and the McMahon Line in the east) is 4,056 km (2,520 mi) long and traverses five Indian states/territories: Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. On the Chinese side, the line traverses the Tibet Autonomous Region.
The term "line of actual control" is said to have been used by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in a 1959 note to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The demarcation existed as the informal cease-fire line between India and China after the 1962 Sino-Indian War until 1993, when its existence was officially accepted as the 'Line of Actual Control' in a bilateral agreement.
In a letter dated 7 November 1959, Zhou told Nehru that the LAC consisted of "the so-called McMahon Line in the east and the line up to which each side exercises actual control in the west". During the Sino-Indian War (1962), Nehru refused to recognise the line of control: "There is no sense or meaning in the Chinese offer to withdraw twenty kilometers from what they call 'line of actual control'. What is this 'line of control'? Is this the line they have created by aggression since the beginning of September? Advancing forty or sixty kilometers by blatant military aggression and offering to withdraw twenty kilometers provided both sides do this is a deceptive device which can fool nobody."
Zhou responded that the LAC was "basically still the line of actual control as existed between the Chinese and Indian sides on 7 November 1959. To put it concretely, in the eastern sector it coincides in the main with the so-called McMahon Line, and in the western and middle sectors it coincides in the main with the traditional customary line which has consistently been pointed out by China."[non-primary source needed]
The term "LAC" gained legal recognition in Sino-Indian agreements signed in 1993 and 1996. The 1996 agreement states, "No activities of either side shall overstep the line of actual control." However clause number 6 of the 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas mentions, "The two sides agree that references to the line of actual control in this Agreement do not prejudice their respective positions on the boundary question".
The Indian government claims that Chinese troops continue to illegally enter the area hundreds of times every year. In 2013, there was a three-week standoff (2013 Daulat Beg Oldi incident) between Indian and Chinese troops 30 km southeast of Daulat Beg Oldi. It was resolved and both Chinese and Indian troops withdrew in exchange for a Chinese agreement to destroy some military structures over 250 km to the south near Chumar that the Indians perceived as threatening. Later the same year, it was reported that Indian forces had already documented 329 sightings of unidentified objects over a lake in the border region, between the previous August and February. They recorded 155 such intrusions. Later some of the objects were identified as planets Venus and Jupiter by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, appearing brighter as a result of the different atmosphere at altitude and confusion due to the increased use of surveillance drones. In October 2013, India and China signed a border defence cooperation agreement to ensure that patrolling along the LAC does not escalate into armed conflict.
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- Borders of Ladakh, marked on OpenStreetMap represents the Line of Actual Control in the east and south (including the Demchok sector).
- Sushant Singh, Line of Actual Control: Where it is located, and where India and China differ, The Indian Express, 2 June 2020.
- Why China is playing hardball in Arunachal by Venkatesan Vembu, Daily News & Analysis, 13 May 2007
- Two maps of Kashmir: maps showing the Indian and Pakistani positions on the border.