India and China are world’s most populous and fastest-growing economies. Relations between them dates back to ancient times Silk Road. These two Asian neighbours never shared good border relations with each other resulted in three military conflicts. The Sino-Indian War of 1962, the Chola incident in 1967, and the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish.
The recent death of 20 soldiers in Galwan Valley region has again highlighted the border conflict between the two. This is the first time after the 1962 war that soldiers have died in clashes on the Indian China border in Ladakh.
Indo-China border background
India shares a long 3488 km border with China, starting from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh’s Anjwal district. Four Indian states that are Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh and a Union Territories of Ladakh (erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir) touch Chinese border.
The Sino-China border is divided into the western, middle, and the eastern sector.
- The western sector includes Ladakh and the territorial disputed land of Aksai chin. In this sector lies LAC.(present site of clash)
- Middle Sector includes areas of Himachal and Uttarakhand.
- Eastern sector includes areas of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Aksai Chin is a result of British Empire failure to clearly demarcate the legal border between China and its colony India.
Their proposed borders were – Johnson’s Line and McDonald Line.
- The Johnson’s line (proposed in 1865) shows Aksai Chin in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir (now Ladakh) which is part of present India and McDonald Line (proposed in 1893) places it under China’s control.
- India considers Johnson Line as a correct and the rightful national border with China. on the contrast, China considers the McDonald Line as the correct border.
- At present, Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the line separating Indian areas of Ladakh from Aksai Chin.
Reason for the present conflict
Line OF Actual Control And Area of Differing Perception
LOC and LAC
- The border that divides India and POK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) is called LOC(Line of Control),
- and the border between Indian and China is called LAC(Line of actual control).
- LOC is clearly defined while LAC is not.
Area of Differing Perception/Grey Area
There are only differing claim lines and differing perceptions of where the working border — the Line of Actual Control — lies. These differing claims and perceptions create an area of overlapping claims, and within that area, there exists a smaller zone that both sides patrol. T results in the occasional clash.
Site of Clash
India and China share a 3,440km (2,100 miles) long border and have overlapping territorial claims. The present area of tension is around three points. First being Pangong Lake, the second area is Galwan River Valley region and the third area is Hot spring near Kongka Pass.
The whole dispute is taking place around Pangong lake which is 130km long and 5km in breadth lake in Ladakh.LAC passes through the middle of this lake and 60% of it is occupied by China. The pointy edges in the north of the lake are its fingers. As seen in the picture
Starting from the left, the edges are given name. India claims its territory till finger 8 while China claims its territory till finger 2.
In the current scenario, China has physically occupied the area from finger4 to finger 8, the main reason for the conflict between India and China.
The Galwan River valley lies in the Aksai Chin, India. River Galwan originates from the eastern slopes of Karakoram Range and floes west to join shyok river.
The strategic importance of Galwan River Valley (GRV):
- The Galwan river is the highest ridgeline and it allows the Chinese to dominate the Shyok route passes, which is close to the river.
- It lies along with the western sector of the LAC and is close to Aksai Chin.
Why tensions are suddenly on rise in this area?
- India is trying to construct a feeder road emanating from Darbuk-Shyok Village – Daulat Beg Oldi road (DS-DBO road), passes through Galwan Valley, and connects Leh to Karakoram region.
- This road runs along the Shyok River and is the most critical line of communications close to LAC.
- It is an important supply route that serves Indian troops deployed in the Karakoram region.
- Chinese are keen on controlling this area as they fear that the Indian side could end up threatening their position on the Aksai Chin plateau by using the river valley.
Some other reasons
- In 2019, the Government of India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
- It redrew the region’s map.
- The new federally-administered Ladakh included Aksai Chin, an area India claims but China controls.
- Chinese didn’t like this unilateral move by INDIA.
How this standoff can affect India
- “The situation is serious. The Chinese have come into territory which they themselves accepted as part of India. It has completely changed the status quo,” says Ajai Shukla, an Indian military expert who served as a colonel in the army.
- Stand-offs are reported on three locations: the Galwan valley; Hot Springs; and Pangong Lake to the south.
- If Pangong is taken Ladakh cant be defended. If they are allowed to settle in the strategic valley of Shyok, then the Nubra valley and even Siachen can be reached.
What India should do?
China’s aggressive policy of expansion and its desire to change the status quo is continuously becoming a threat to the world, a recent example is the South China Sea dispute.
As said, “Not all battles are fought on the battlefield“. India can opt for a passive path. It can create pressure on china on different International platforms like the UN on the following grounds.
Here are ways through which India can hit back on China without using hard power:
- Raise Tibet issue in the UN: Tibet was always an autonomous state. China forcefully occupied it. India should raise its voice in favor of Tibet in the UN.
- Raising the Uighur Muslim Genocide issue at UN: There have been reports that China is responsible for Human rights violations and the cultural genocide of Uyghurs. India along with other countries should protest against China over this.
- Boycott Trade: India’s trade deficit with China was $56.8 billion in 2019 and it’s continuously rising. China uses its dumping policy to increase its share of the market in other countries. India needs to take serious steps concerning this.
- Recognize Taiwan as a Separate Country: To send a strong message to China India need to support Taiwan. China has internal issues and India needs to recognize opportunities where it can hit back China.
- Arm China’s Opponents like Vietnam: Chinas opponents have continuously asked for India’s alliance through the supply of BrahMos and Akash missiles. India should encash this opportunity
This video by Sonam Wangchuck is an inspiration. We as an Indian citizen can pressurize china thought our wallet power. Take these steps towards boycotting China and help our soldiers and economy.
India should take recent intrusion as a lesson. It’s a long battle. Answers do not lie in the reply through the military. A country’s actual strength lies in its economic and diplomatic power.
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