Context: India and China are working together to resolve the border dispute within the proper framework of diplomatic dialogue.
Background: India and China are moving toward a new modus operandi to maintain peace and tranquillity along their disputed 4,000 km border. In 2020, the old arrangements shaped by the agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005, and 2013 fell apart in Ladakh when the Chinese military deployed a large number of troops in Tibet and set up barricades at six points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) so that India could stop its soldiers from patrolling the border. In June 2020, 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in a clash at Galwan, the first such loss along the LAC since 1975. The December 2022 Sino-Indian conflict in the Yangtze northeast of Tawang shows that new measures may be needed across the LAC and not just in Ladakh.
What happened in May 2020?
PP15 and PP17A are two of the four points in May 2020 when China diverted its troops from the Tibetan Plateau region for its annual exercise to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, leading to a standoff with India where there was dust in the eyes of the jawans.
The other points of friction at that time were PP14 in the Galwan Valley and the northern bank of Pangong Tso. Chinese troops had crossed the LAC at all these points and had crossed themselves.
The maximum intrusion was on the northern bank of Pangong Tso, where Chinese troops were at Finger 4, which is 8 kilometres west of Finger 8, where India says the LAC is located.
What are PP15 and 17A?
Along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, the Indian Army has been given certain locations that its troops must reach to patrol the territory under their control. These points are known as patrolling points, or PPs, and are decided by the China Study Group (CSG).
The CSG was established in 1976, when Indira Gandhi was prime minister, and is the highest decision-making body in China.
These patrolling points are on the LAC, except in a few areas like the Depsang Plains, and troops reach these points to assert their control over the area. The border between India and China has not yet been set in stone, so this is an important exercise.
PP15 and PP17A are two of the 65 patrolling points in Ladakh along the LAC. Some of these 65 also have additional alpha-phosphates that are ahead of the original phosphate. So pp17a is different from, but close to, pp17a. PP15 is located in an area called Hot Springs, while PP17A is near an area called Gogra Post.
Where are these two areas?
Both of them are close to the Chang Chenmo river in the Galwan sub-sector of the LAC in eastern Ladakh. While the hot springs are just north of the Chang Chenmo River, the Gogra Post is east of the point where the river takes a hairpin turn, coming southeast from the Galwan Valley and turning southwest. The area is north of the Karakoram range of mountains, north of Pangong Tso Lake, and southeast of the Galwan Valley, which became a major flashpoint and the site of a violent face-off in June 2020 that killed 20 Indians and at least four Chinese soldiers
What is the significance of this field?
The area is located close to the Kongka Pass, one of the main passes that, according to China, marks the border between India and China. India’s claim to the international border is significant to the east, as it includes the entire Aksai Chin region.
How important are they to the military?
Both PP15 and PP17A are in an area where India and China have largely agreed on the alignment of the LAC, which runs southeast from the Galwan Valley, turns at Konga La, and reaches Ain before reaching the northern bank of Pangong Tso. Heading towards the pass.
China has a major People’s Liberation Army outpost a few kilometres east of Kongka La, while Indian posts are located to its southwest. However, according to the official history of the 1962 war between India and China, the region has not been identified as a major “launchpad” from which an offensive could be launched by either side.