By Ayathuray Rajasingam –
The issue on India-China border is a conflicting dispute between States, affecting international peace. The dispute began with China’s invasion of Tibet in 1950, as a result China began to dispute the border line dividing Tibet, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh and extended its claim on the east over Arunachala Pradesh. Today Tibet is treated as an autonomous region that falls under China at a time when Dalai Lama’s government in exile is in India which is likely to irritate China. However, China appears to be interested in the district called Tawang, which borders Tibet and Bhutan. China considers that since Tawang has longstanding historic links with Tibet, it is important for China to settle the border problem.
Since the need of controlling the bordering countries like Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan as well as Arunachala Pradesh bordering China is of great importance to India, it is interesting to watch the behaviour of States to the dispute, given the fact that India and China are competing for supremacy in Asia affecting the existing world order. The Mc Mohan line was drawn at the Simla Conference in 1914 between Tibet and Britain and accepted by Tibet. It is a demarcating line dividing India and China when there was no country called Pakistan. Now Pakistan being a member of the SAARC will have to be watched how it reacts on this Indo-China border issue. The domination of India in the South Asia is what matters for China. It will be interesting to watch how these countries will react on the India-China border issue.
According to the Simla Accord, Tibet ceded the South Tibet to British India to which China has declined to accept the McMahon line demarcated as the boundary between India and China in the North Eastern Frontier of India between Bhutan and Burma.
China considers Arunachala Pradesh as a contiguous part of Tibet, when it protested over a loan granted to India for developing Arunachala Pradesh. It should be noted that after the formation of the United Nations that India was recognized as its member within a defined boundary including the Mac Mohan line. It was an acceptance in accordance with the general practice of States. Israel too was recognized within a defined boundary by the UN.
China should be aware that people always like to enjoy civil liberties within a democratic structure. Any government that leans towards communism is evil and people hate. Communism is also a way of terrorist regime. Against such a background the rising influence of China eventually gave to the birth of Maoists in Nepal and in some parts of China and to the encouragement of the JVP in Sri Lanka creating chaos in these countries. Further India is a multi-racial democratic country with a federal structure whereas China is a communist country where civil liberties are denied. In a changing world, Charter rules of the UN should be given priority which is possible only by countries practicing democracy. If China is interested in some parts of Arunachala Pradesh, what would be China’s position if India is interested in the North East Province of Sri Lanka. Then a plebiscite should be taken to find whether the people in the disputed territory would like to join China. Here is a case where Ladak, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and Arunachala Pradesh do not want to join China.
It is very difficult to rely on China since it waged a war on India in 1962 after a goodwill visit of Jawaharlal Nehru to China. The manner in which it sieged Tibet, should be condemned without any reservation. Further, the relationship China has with Pakistan, Bangaladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar in constructing the harbours, throws a challenge to India as well as to the Western countries. Further, the India-China border talk on the Himalaya region also draws the attention of the UN and the Western Powers to watch the behaviour of the SAARC countries.
The Line of Actual Control (LAC) emerged out of the 1962 war between India and China. It was sparked by longstanding historical territorial disagreements. Aksai Chin is a part of Greater Kashmir. The 1949 Indo-Pakistan war resulted in the division of India and Pakistan but the border appeared to be ill-defined.
Ladakh is a mountainous territory situated on the East of Kashmir valley part, of which is controlled by India, but as a semi-autonomous State of Jammu & Kashmir. The creation of Ladakh made China difficult in going to Pakistan because it was a hindrance to China’s infrastructure building. Both China and Pakistan are aware that Ladakh is India’s strategic point.
The same infrastructure building saw a crisis over the disputed territory of Doklam in 2017. Such Indian fortification is seen as a threat to China’s geostrategic goals in the Central Asia. Apparently, India completed a new all-weather road close to the LAC the purpose of which is to transfer troops along the border quickly and reinforce its position. This is considered as a checkmate of China’s evil motive to threaten India.
However China is interested in Aksai Chin which would be political suicide for any Indian government to cede Indian territory. Now China have bolstered border control measures and made necessary moves and accused India of building defense facilities in the Galwan valley region of the contested Aksai Chin area. While China controls Aksai Chin, India claims that it is part of Indian territory and alleges that China sought to erect a structure in the Galwan valley on the Indian side of the LAC. On the contrary, China alleges that Aksai Chin is part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and that Indian soldiers violated the consensus and crossed the LAC for illegal activities. Thereafter there was a fierce physical confrontation between them. As for India, the unity and territorial integrity is of utmost important and that they will try to defend at whatever cost.
Since the clash, China has accelerated road works and appears to have executed the infrastructure for the accommodation of its troops at Patrol Point 14 an area which was utilized for patrolling only. Even in 2013, the same game plan took place at Depsang Plain after a Chinese platoon set up a camp to the surprise of India. This disputed area has been patrolled by both China and India earlier. Later China withdrew from the disputed area. Since then India has completed its road to Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) area between Points 10 and 13 increasing the strategic value of the location where again China has now begun creating trouble for India.
China wanted to nullify the existing McMohan Line on which India was relying because of the strategic importance of the Himalayas, but China rejected it. However, China wanted some diplomatic relations with Nepal. As a result Nepal and China established diplomatic relations for the first time on August 1, 1955, that is, six years after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and four years after the installation of democracy in Nepal in 1951. The Agreement was designed to maintain friendly relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Nepal as well as in the Agreement on trade between the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China and Nepal the customary movement of people and goods along the border has been accepted. This laid the foundation for the friction with India over border dispute between China and India. Later Pakistan ceded a portion of its territory in Kashmir to China in 1963 which eventually has intensified China to create problem with India for the claim of Aksai Chin which borders with China. Aksai Chin is a portion of the Kashmir region of the Northernmost extent of India. It constitutes nearly all the territory of the Chinese-administered sector of Kashmir that is claimed by India to be part of the Ladakh area of the State of Jammu-Kashmir.
Ladakh is a region, located at a high altitude about 10,000 feet above sea level, in the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir which currently extends from the Karakoram mountain range to the main Great Himalayas to the South. Ladakh is a region administered by India as a Union Territory and constituting a part of the larger region of Kashmir, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan and China since 1947 until 2019 Ladakh was a region of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. There is also a strong influence of Tibetan culture in Ladakh. It is predominantly a Buddhist District. Now Radha Krishna Mathur was sworn in as the Lt.Governor of the Union Territory of Ladakh which came into existence after bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir.
Pakistan recognized Chinese sovereignty over the Trans-Karakorum Tract and Aksai Chin since 1963. India administers Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and the Siachen Glacier. In 1914 the Tibetan Government signed the Simla Accord with Britain, ceding the South Tibet to British India to which the China denounced it as illegal.
The change of regime in China brought number of complex issues between India and China. Communist China was created on 1st October 1949 under Mao Zedong and Gen.Chiang Kai Sheik fled to Taiwan. Thereafter Tibet was annexed in 1950 by China. However, there is a dispute over Tibet regarding its legal status. China claims that Tibet was an integral part of China. But Tibetan government-in-exile maintains that Tibet is an independent State under unlawful occupation. According to the Simla Accord between Tibet and Britain, South Tibet was ceded to British India, but China denounced it as illegal. However, when Communist China invaded Tibet about 1.2 million Tibetans were killed and several monasteries were destroyed, while others fled.
After the occupation of Tibet in the 1950s, Chinese leaders have said Tibet is the Palm and now they had to go for five fingers namely Ladakh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Arunachala Pradesh. In 1917 the Doklam incident took place which borders Sikkim and Bhutan and ended and presently with Ladakh which has turned out to be a violent. These incidents demonstrate that there is a long-term strategy of China’s expansion which it wants to implement. Mention should be made that Hindus are in majority in Nepal and Buddhists are in majority in Bhutan, Sikkim and Ladak and Christians and Hindus are in majority in Arunachala Pradesh. If China has set its target on these five States, will it mean there will be massacres of Hindus, Buddhists and others together with their places of worship, like how China killed 1.2 million Tibetans in Tibet.
There is also a conflict on the border on Nepal where Nepal alleges that India has systematically stationed its military troops in the Kalapani area further to the west of where the borders of Nepal, China and India meet. But Nepal’s argument is that Kalapani region lies within its territory. Nepal is furious that its own border dispute with India could be sidelined, the result of which shows that Nepal is struggling between India and China.
The statement in the Global Times quoted by Hu Zhiyong from the Institute of International Relations of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences that ‘since Pakistan and Nepal are key partners of China under the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative, there are possibilities that India could face military pressure from two more fronts which is far beyond India’s military capability and might lead to a disastrous defeat for India’ cannot be easily ignored in the light of China’s silence on its military capabilities. Recent developments by China close to the border of Rajasthan and Pakistan lend support to this contention. Meanwhile there are reports that Taiwan fighter jets had intercepted China’s intrusion in its air space and the appearance of US war ships in the South China Seas where Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia have joined in the fray against China. Moreover, when the world was crippled with coronavirus pandemic, China flexed its muscle towards India which was unacceptable.
The transgressions by the Chinese Army along the LAC shows that China had not catered the global loss of trust and faith in the aftermath of coronavirus pandemic. Hence China’s cunning tactics has provided the rest of the world the perfect excuse to dump the ‘One China Policy’ and retaliation. Perhaps this may signal the end of the existence of China’s Communist Party in China. Though the LAC appears to be a complicated demarcation line based on actual ground control of India and China, it should bring to the notice of the proper international forum. China had to realize that one cannot put the clock back. It had to start from where it stops. However, today the situation is different. Every one’s hope is that the matter be solved in a spirit of friendliness. The vital issue is whether China can get away with lot of things because India’s inherent policy has been very defensive. The world wonders whether China is worried about the loss of number of soldiers on both sides other than its territorial expansion on this sensitive issue at a time when there is coronavirus pandemic.