by Ajay Banerjee

India and China have revived their long-pending issue of setting up a telephonic hotline at the level of Director-General Military Operations (DGMO)

The matter was revived at a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs in Beijing last month. The two sides are now coordinating on how to have a Mandarin-to-English translator in India and the reverse of it in China. The telephonic talk between the two senior officers may be done like a conference call with translators listening in to transcribe, on either side.

This is being done in the backdrop of the 20th round of special representatives (SR) talks on boundary resolution in New Delhi on December 21-22. National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and his counterpart, state councillor Yang Jiechi, will discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including the situation along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC). This is the first SR-level meeting since the 73-day military standoff at Doklam.

Since the two are responsible for boundary resolution, they are expected to discuss measures to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC.

The issue of the DGMO-level hotline was discussed at a higher level in April 2016 during the visit of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to China. A draft agreement was exchanged, but there were hurdles of language and also for China to identify an officer at the rank of the DGMO-a three-star lieutenant general.

At present, India and China have five border personnel meeting points along the Himalayas, where formation commanders on either side discuss local irksome issues. A DGMO-level hotline will be for overall talks when matters heat up.