Analysts said the development was a ‘positive’ step but it doesn’t indicate the normalization of ties. AFP

India, China set up new hotline in Sikkim


In the midst of a breakdown of trust between India and China, badly shaken by Chinese incursions into Indian territory last year, the Indian army said that a hotline had been established between it in North Sikkim and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Tibet on Sunday.

The announcement of the establishment of the hotline came a day after senior military commanders of the two countries met at Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to discuss disengagement of tens of thousands of troops ranged eye ball to eye ball against each other since May last year in eastern Ladakh.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the decision to establish the hotline – connecting Kongra La in North Sikkim to Khamba Dzong in Tibetan Autonomous Region – was made prior to the meeting of the senior army commanders at Moldo on Saturday.

Analysts said Sunday’s development was a “positive” step though it could not be taken as an indication of the two sides normalizing ties.

“We have had problems in the North Sikkim area so it makes sense to have a hotline to resolve local incidents,” said Deepender Singh Hooda, former northern army commander who oversaw security of the Ladakh sector. “There is still a long way to go to rebuild the trust broken by Chinese actions last year,” Hooda said.

Previously, a person familiar with the matter had said on Friday that some breakthrough could be possible between two sides on the disengagement of troops from Gogra and Hot Springs areas of eastern Ladakh during Saturday’s talks at Moldo. Ties between India and China have been in tatters since India first detected Chinese intrusions into Indian territory in May. Indian and Chinese troops had got involved in a physical fight in Sikkim last year besides in Ladakh in May. In June, the two sides were involved in a violent clash that resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese personnel.

A statement was expected on Monday on the talks between the senior military commanders, a second person familiar with the matter said.

According to the Indian Army statement on Sunday, the hotline was established to “further the spirit of trust and cordial relations along the borders. The event coincided with the PLA Day on 1 Aug 2021.”

“The Armed forces of the two countries have well established mechanisms for communication at ground commanders level. These hotlines in various sectors go a long way in enhancing the same and maintaining peace and tranquility at the borders,” it said.

“The inauguration was attended by ground commanders of the respective Armies and a message of friendship and harmony was exchanged through the hotline,” it said.

This is the sixth hotline to be established between the two countries. There are two in the Ladakh sector, two in Arunachal Pradesh and now two in the Sikkim sector, according to the first person familiar with the matter cited above.

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