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Intrusions and Violation of LAC in India–China Border

The lack of a clearly defined borderline and a mutually accepted actual line of control is the major reason for continuous tension and clashes between India and China. The political leadership of both the countries should see the present crisis as an opportunity to find an everlasting resolution to the border question.

After a brief interlude of about three years since Doklam crisis in 2017, yet another round of tensions started in the India–China border at Ladakh in May this year. It is “normal” that tussles occur in usual intervals in different sectors of the 3,488 km long India–China border. Mostly, such situations are handled at local levels and rarely lead to human casualty. The current clashes started when around 250 Indian and Chinese soldiers stood face to face at the banks of Pangong Tso, near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Eastern Ladakh. The tussle started on 5 May and has spread to adjacent areas of Naku La and Galwan Valley and turned to bloody clashes, which caused the death of many soldiers from both sides. This type of a clash between the forces leading to ­human casualty happened after more than 50 years (Goldman 2020). The terrain where the current tensions have taken place is important for both the countries for its geostrategic and political reasons, though it is a wasteland situated at a very high altitude and not suitable for human inha­bitation as it is covered by snow almost round the year. The current crisis gets special attention as it emerged in a time when almost all countries in the world are undergoing through the COVID-19 pandemic, and China is accused by the Western countries for its laxity that caused the global spread of the pandemic.

The border or territorial dispute bet­ween India and China has its roots in the colonial construction of states and their boundaries in the Himalayan region (Karackattu 2017; Noorani 2011). By the end of 19th and early 20th centuries, the region became a theatre of big power conflicts, popularly known as “The Great Game.” The three major global empires/powers at that time, the British India, Chinese Empire and the Russian Tsarist Empire, shared borders in the region and played in the great power game that was very crucial in setting the cartography of this area. They had made many agreements and drawn lines to demarcate the boundaries in the geostrategically important locations in the region during the 19th century (Mehra 2007). The decline of the Chinese Empire started when it got defeated by Japan in the last decade of 19th century. This led to the emergence of Tibet as a major regional player and it started enjoying great amount of autonomy from the central authority in China. It is in this context, in 1907, the Russian Empire and the British Empire had re-emphasised upon the Chinese ­suzerainty over Tibet (Eekelen 2016). According to this, any border demarcation in the region requires the ratification of the central authority in China or could be valid only after ­China becoming a party/signatory to it.

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Updated On : 17th Aug, 2020

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