MBC Screened-in Blog 3 by Kedar Pagire
The border dispute between India and China is not a new issue, it has been an issue since British era. China wants to become once again “The Middle Kingdom of the Asian Years”. India and China share a boundary of 3488km, which is not clearly demarcated throughout. Border is divided in 3 sectors.
- Western Sector- Boundary with Union territory of Ladakh.
- Middle Sector- Boundary with the Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
- Eastern Sector- Boundary with Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
UNDERLYING PHILOSOPHY OF BOTH THE COUNTRIES:-
China follows Mao-Tsetung policy whereas India believes in Gandhian and Nehruvian policy which is mostly concerned with the “Middle Path” (means solving issues diplomatically over dialogue). India believes in peaceful co-existence. Whereas Mao-Tsetung was a principal Chinese Marxist theorist soldier and Statesman who led his nation to the Cultural Revolution. Mao-Tsetung always looked at India as a stooge of imperialism and as slaves of Westerners and the USA.
In 1950 Mao described his “Right hand palm and five Fingers” strategy. He described Tibet as the right hand palm while Ladakh, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Arunachal Pradesh are the five fingers. China always had these imperialistic views for these territories.
PROBLEM IN THE WESTERN SECTOR:-
Problem in the western sector is due to the dispute between 2 lines i.e
- Johnson line ( India considers this line)
- Macdonald line ( China considers this line)
In 1865, W.H. Johnson proposed this line, which put Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir. At that time, China was facing the Dungan revolt, which China did not control, and so this line was never presented to Chinese. However, this line was presented to the Maharaja of Kashmir who constructed the Fort of Shahidullah, which is on this line as a sign that this is Indian Territory. In 1899, McCartney proposed a revised boundary, which places Aksai Chin in China. This led to cartographic aggression.
PROBLEM IN THE EASTERN SECTOR:-
Real historical issue for this problem lies in the year 1800 between Russia and British for gaining this area. This was a war between communism and capitalism known as the “Great Game”. Hence, British tried to create a buffer state to avoid adjoining boundary and direct conflict. This led to the creation of Tibet (the Buffer state). Even Afghanistan was also a buffer state.
SHIMLA ACCORD 1914:-
Representatives of Tibet, Great Britain and China at Shimla gathered to fix the boundaries between Tibet & India so that Tibet becomes a buffer state. China left the accord and it was only signed between Tibet & British India. In this Tibet was divided in 2 parts.
- Outer Tibet (Southern part) which will have no involvement of China.
- Inner Tibet which will have the involvement of China.
This led to the formation of the McMahon line by Henry McMahon, a proposed line between India and Tibet. This line also put Tawang (a region of the present Arunanchal Preadesh) in the British Empire. But, China refuses to accept this line as they claim that Tibet was a suzerainty but British did not correct them at that time because the year was 1914 ( WW1) and they required China’s help.
On 6th October 1950, China broke the Shimla Accord and invaded Tibet under the pretext of liberating Tibet with 40,000 soldiers at the battle of Chamdo and incorporated Tibet in China. Thus we lost the buffer state between India and China. This was our mistake.
17 POINT AGREEMENT IN 1951:-
The 17 POINT Agreement broadly accepted to have been signed under duress by Tibetans. The agreement provided guarantees to respect mutual need and established a relationship between the government. In 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed after they rose up against the Chinese rule in an attempt to protect the Dalai Lama and defend their freedom. The cooperation effectively concluded with the Dalai Lama’s escape into exile.
The agreement of “Trade and intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India” was signed on 29th April 1954. This marked the apogee of the “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai”. It was Five principles of peaceful coexistence. Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and respect for each other’s territorial unity integrity and sovereignty are set of principles to govern relations between states. The Indian Government was having no clue about what that agreement really signified for India and Tibet, this was the last nail in the coffin of the 2000-year-old nation. It was a historic win for China as India acknowledged that Tibet was the mere part of China through this agreement. Hence, in 1959, they broke the 17-point agreement with Tibet and the Dalai Lama fled to India for asylum. Mao felt humiliated by the reception that the Dalai Lama received and tensions increased when Mao stated that Indians caused the Lhasa rebellion in Tibet. One of the Nehru Government’s biggest historical blunders has been the Aksai Chin road built by China on Indian soil without Delhi noticing and knowing it from the Chinese newspaper. The Xinjiang-Tibet highway. China’s perception of India as a threat to its rule of Tibet became one of the most prominent reasons for the Sino- Indian War.
SINO-INDIAN WAR 1962:-
In October 1962, China attacked India on both fronts, Ladakh and North East Frontier agency. The belief of not ever being attacked by China did not let Indian army prepare and the result was a standoff between 10,000-20,000 Indian troops and 80,000 Chinese troops. Chinese were ready with their roads and military. Till the start of war, the Indian side was confident that war would not be started and very little preparation was made. India deployed only two divisions in the conflict zone. India had 1383 casualties and 1074 injured soldiers.
On 20th November, China declared a unilateral ceasefire. This war happened not because we were not capable but because we were unprepared and were caught off the guard. We were not able to read the true intentions of China and the idealistic nature of our PM. This resulted in the formation of LAC. The LAC was never mutually agreed unlike the LOC between India and Pakistan, because China declared a unilateral ceasefire.
CHINA FOLLOWS SALAMI SLICING STRATEGY:-
In the military, the term Salami slicing strategy is described as the strategy that involves the divide and conquer process of threats and alliances to overcome opposition and acquire new territories. It is a series of many small actions often performed by clandestine means that, when accumulated, completely produce a much larger action or result that would be difficult or unlawful to perform all at once. In context of China denoting its strategy of territorial expansion in the South China Sea and Himalayan region, many believe that standoff at Doklam was the result of China’s salami slicing tactics in the Himalayas. Recently, Beijing’s state run CGTN tweeted on 2nd May 2020 that Mount Qomolangma (Everest) is located in China’s Tibet Autonomous region.
India and Bhutan have special relationships. India remains influential over Bhutan’s foreign policy, defense and commerce. India does not want to make the same mistake again which happened with Tibet. Doklam has a strategic importance for India. It is 264 sq km of land. It is a tri-junction point for India. China believes that it is a disputed territory of Bhutan and China. Therefore, it contests the presence of Indian Army in this region. Doklam is very close to the Siliguri corridor and hence important to India. Siliguri Corridor is the narrow piece of land, which connects Northeast India to mainland China. It is called the “Chicken’s Neck”. a 73 days long standoff happened between India and China at Doklam in 2017. If ever China takes Doklam its next target will be the Siliguri corridor to cut off the entire north-east from India.
Therefore, Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal corridor is essential as an alternative to connect India and North East. In 2017 also we did not back off, now also a similar situation in Ladakh is facing us.
HOW WELL ARE WE PREPARED TO AVOID MISTAKE OF 1962:-
The traditionally peaceful Galwan River has now become a hotspot because it is where the LAC is closest (45 km) to the new road which India has built along the Shyok River to Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO) the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh.
Air Strip at Daulat Beg Odi, world’s highest airstrip in Ladakh has been built which will help the Indian Air Force support in the crisis and also boost up the logistics support needed in this region.
A strategically vital link road in Uttarakhand almost to the high altitude Lipulekh Pass on the LAC with China has been finally completed by the Border Roads Organization. This 80km road will cut the journey time to Kailash Manasarovar Yatra and will also help in the troop movement along the border region more rapidly.
Pangong Tso Lake means a concave lake. LAC passes through this lake. About 3rd of the lake lies in the Indian territory and remaining in China dominated Tibet. India claims its region till the Finger 8 but controls physically till finger 4. China does not consider this.
BEEFING INFRASTRUCTURE ALONG CHINA BORDER:-
As of now, 21 of the proposed 73 roads have been developed by India for the Indo China border and revised the target from 2021 to 2020.
- Chamba Tunnel – a strategic tunnel to increase the connectivity along the China border for better movement of troops, artillery guns and vehicles in Uttarakhand.
- Dhola –Sadiya Bridge ( Bhupen Hazarika Setu 9.2km) which connects Assam and Arunachal is a welcome step to bring the travel time down.
- Brahmos Missile regiment has been deployed in Arunachal Pradesh. This clearly states India’s intention to China that finds every opportunity to reiterate its sanction over the territory.
- Mountain Strike Corps is currently engaged in an exercise to validate the concept of a swift offensive in the high Himalayan region along the China Border. 17 corps headquartered in Panagarh in West Bengal have a month long exercise ‘Him Vijay’.
- Col Chewang Rinchen Setu built by BRO inaugurated in eastern Ladakh. India’s all weather highest altitude bridge which is about 4.5km on Shyok. The bridge connects Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldi area. A road between Karakoram pass and Leh Region.
- India has also unveiled plans to build a mountain road along the disputed border with China in the country’s remote north east which will stretch from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh state to where the borders of India and China meet with Myanmar.
CONCLUSION:-China knows that India is an emerging economy, large market for their goods and competitor in South East Asia. China presently is on the back foot because globally they are being criticized for this pandemic situation. It needs to be more assertive in its defense against global attacks on corona accounts. Besides hitting Australia and New Zealand, China also threatened Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Followed by security laws in Hong Kong. India was likely to play an important role in WHO so it was time for China to round off its preemptive counter attack strategy. China wants to create pressure over India so that it does not join the G7 nations against China. It is aware that a strategic aim of gaining physical territory against India is not possible but by this standoff it wants to deflect global attention to raise patriotic feelings amid this situation and also to achieve people’s support. The message of boycotting Chinese goods flooding the social media and among the people has added fuel to fire. Both countries do not want war because we both have surplus of trade, and war is bad for business and for countries like China whose backbone is manufacturing , war is not the solution. However, this standoff is done so that India does not incline towards the west and USA. India is lacking investments in Nepal due to which it is inclining more towards China, which is not a good sign for India.