Simply put — the India-China dispute in Ladakh’s Galwan valley along the Line of Actual Control
- Two agreements, in 1962 and 1993, form the basis for the
Line of Actual Control(LAC).
- The primary issue in the Ladakh region is that the India-China border is not delineated.
- Experts argue that China’s military power far exceeds all its neighbours and it seems willing to assert it.
Then in 1993, both the countries signed a “Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility” agreement. The two agreements, in 1962 and 1993, form the basis for the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
A battle 14,000 feet above sea level
It’s been 42 days since the current round of clashes erupted in the Galwan valley along the LAC. According to the Indian Army Chief General Manoj Naravane, the incidents in Pangong Lake Ladakh on May 5 happened because of “ aggressive behaviour on both sides.” Both the countries have deployed several battalions and weapons near the disputed border areas since then.
India and China have disputes in many areas across the length of the border between the two countries from Ladakh to the Tawang region Arunachal Pradesh, a state in northeast India.
However, the primary issue in the Ladakh region is that the India-China border is not delineated. That means, India and China have overlapping lines claiming their territory in the Aksai Chin sector, which is largely an uninhabitable region.
India believes that China has 38,000 square kilometers of its land in the western Himalayas, including some areas in Ladakh, and another 5,180 square kilometres of land in Kashmir ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963.
However, the current escalation was triggered by Chinese incursions into the Pangong Tso— Tso is the local word for lake— more than half of which is already under Beijing’s control.
More than a flash in the pan
The 73-days standoff in Doklam in 2017 when the Indian troops and those from the People’s Liberation Army got into a scuffle over the construction of a road in a territory claimed by both China and Bhutan,India’s ally.
Though the ongoing combat in Ladakh is the first between Indian and Chinese troops in 58 years, there is more to it than meets the eye. “If you look at the past few years, you have two sides building infrastructure next to each other. They are testing each other’s boundaries. And such stand-offs are becoming a pattern in their relations,” James Crabtree from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy recently said.
Experts argue that China’s military power far exceeds all its neighbours and the increasing tensions from the South China Sea to the Taiwan strait to Ladakh is a reflection of Beijing’s intent to assert its strength.
India may also be threatened by China’s growing influence in Pakistan occupied Kashmir
India and Pakistan have clashing claims over areas in Kashmir. However, parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, like the Gilgit-Baltistan region that India claims as its territory, are also areas that China has a claim on.
“Although Beijing has let Pakistan keep Hunza for now, it has not really given up its claims on the region under the 1963 agreement. The CPEC, which enters Pakistan through Hunza, has laid the foundation for ever-larger Chinese economic influence in Gilgit-Baltistan,” foreign policy expert C Raja Mohan wrote in the Indian Express.
CPEC stands for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through areas of Ladakh and Kashmir under Pakistan’s administration. According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the passage is illegally occupied by Pakistan.
A military conflict between two large nuclear powers like India and China is likely to make the whole world nervous. The recent negotiations at the level of the respective armies have evidently not managed to calm the conflict.
US President Donald Trump has already offered to mediate between the two countries. China wants to settle the dispute bilaterally but its recent transgressions from Ladakh to Doklam to Arunachal Pradesh may not leave the government in New Delhi with a lot of trust in the Beijing administration.
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