India-china border tensions

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Introduction

Since May 5, 2020, Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in various types of aggressive military actions, face-offs, and skirmishes at several locations along the Sino-Indian border, including disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh, Tibet Autonomous Region, and near the border between Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

 Additional clashes are also ongoing in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which has been there since the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

On June 15, 2020, it marked the most violent hand-to-hand combat in decades between the Indian and Chinese Army. On inhospitable mountainous terrains, there is a 13,500 ft above sea level, where temperatures always remain below zero. 

This resulted in the death of 43 Chinese army personnel and 20 Indian army troops being killed in action

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Indian forces displayed supreme courage and heroism while combating the PLA soldiers.

The Unprofessional Chinese Army used sticks, clubs with barbed wires, and specially carved stones to attack Indian army troops

Article 6 of the treaty on confidence-building measures signed by India and China in November 1996 restricted the two countries’ to patrol with guns, conduct blast operations within two kilometers from the Line of Actual Control (LAC)”.

In this article, we will see the history of Indian and Chinese clashes, its causes and counter-responses

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Where it all started?

The conflict between nuclear-armed countries goes back to 1914 when representatives of the Republic of China negotiated an ambiguous treaty concerning the status of Tibet, Tibet and Great Britain in Simla (present-day in India)between 1913 and 1914 

that would determine the status of Tibet and effectively settle the borders between British India and China.

The Chinese eschewed proposed terms that would have divided Tibet into “Outer Tibet” and “Inner Tibet” and would have granted autonomy but would remain under the Chinese realm, but China refused to sign the deal. 

Britain and Tibet signed a treaty establishing what would be called the McMahon Line. This 550-mile frontier extends through the Himalayas, named after a British diplomat, Henry McMahon, who proposed the border.

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India maintains McMahon Line as the official legal border between China and India. Still, China had repeatedly protested the British drawings of boundaries, claiming they were not signatories to the British treaties.

Major timelines

1914- Simla Convention was signed between Tibetan and British governments and McMahon Line was drawn which is the legal border between China and India

October 1949: Communist leader Mao proclaims China because of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

1950: China sends its troops to Tibet and takes control of the remote mountainous region that declared independence in 1913.

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1958: An uprising against Chinese rule erupts in Tibet, and the Chinese government suppressed it a subsequent year.

March 1959: Tibetan Buddhist leader, Dalai Lama, flees from the crackdown of Chinese govt and is granted asylum inside India. 

Beijing lays claim to almost 80,000 sq km of India-controlled territory in Sikkim and guarded Bhutan.

September 1959: Chinese premier Zhou Enlai during a letter to his Indian counterpart, makes formal declaration claiming sovereignty over the Ladakh region of eastern Kashmir.

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October 1962: War breaks out between India and China, with Beijing taking control of around 40,000 sq km of territory in Kashmir, called Aksai Chin, as India loses the war. 

March 1963: Pakistan and China settle a neighborhood between northern Kashmir and Xinjiang region.

1965: India and China accuse one another of transgressions in contested border territories.

April 1975: China opposes the merger of Sikkim with India.

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April 1976: after 15-years of a gap. India and China restore diplomatic ties to the ambassadorial level. 

The 1980s: US involvement and growing influence in Pakistan during the Afghan war prompted China to require a neutral stance on the Kashmir dispute.

December 1986: Beijing condemns New Delhi’s proclamation of disputed Arunachal Pradesh as a state of the union government.

The 1990s and 2000s: India and China engage in several dispute resolution mechanisms also as confidence-building measures concerning border issues.

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May 2007: China denies visas to the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, citing that it is a region of China, and the citizens don’t require a permit to travel in their own country.

October 2009: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh was objected to by china.

2010: China changed its stance once more to support Pakistan against India at the UN. 

China also develops plans to form substantial investments amounting to quite $50 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

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September 2014: Reports of scuffles between India and China’s troops emerge within the Chuma sector of the Ladakh region, just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India.

July 2017: Reports emerge of troops buildup and a standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers within the Sikkim region. Popularly referred to as doklam standoff.

August 2017: Indian and Chinese border troops clash within the disputed Ladakh region of the Himalayas.

July 2018: China rejects India’s concerns over its joint projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, a self-governing territory in Pakistan that lies in disputed Kashmir.

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August 2019: India revokes Article 370 of its constitution, which was among the conditions under which Maharaja Hari Singh ceded Kashmir to India in 1947 and granted a special semi-autonomous status to India-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan and China sharply criticized the move, which aims to include the disputed territory into India and allows outsiders to shop for property within the contested area.

June 2020: a minimum of 20 Indian troops, including a commanding colonel, killed in hand-to-hand combat between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Galwan Valley along the LAC.

 

History of India and China’s clashes.

1962 India China war

The Indo-China War, also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict, occurred in 1962, entailing large-scale combat at altitudes of over 4,250 meters (14,000 feet).

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The Chinese government argued that Tibet could never sign a treaty creating an international border because it was never independent. several attempts yielded a null result in peaceful negotiation

Under the India government Forward Policy, the Army placed several outposts along the border, including north of the McMahon Line and the eastern part of a Line of Actual Control.

The Chinese launched simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and near the McMahon Line on October 20, 1962. Chinese troops attacked over Indian forces in both the areas, capturing rezang la in chushul(western theater) and Tawang (eastern theater). Both the countries didn’t deploy their navy or airforce.

The war lasted one month but resulted in multiple Indian casualties and more than 800+ Chinese deaths

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The war ended when China declared a ceasefire on November 20, 1962, and later withdrew from the disputed area and unofficially redrew the border near the areas where Chinese troops had conquered territory, also called the Line of Actual Control.

Second Indo-China War or 1967 Nathu La and Cho La clashes

Tensions came to a head again in 1967 along with two mountain passes, Nathu La and Cho La, that connected Sikkim — then a kingdom and a protectorate of India — and China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

A scuffle between the nations broke out when Indian troops started laying barbed wire fences along the border. The scuffles soon got triggered when a Chinese military unit began firing artillery shells at the Indians. In the ensuing conflict, less than 80 Indians troops and 450 Chinese were killed.

India successfully destroyed Chinese fortifications in Nathu La and pushed them farther back into their territory near Cho La. resulting in India victory

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The fighting was the last time that troops on either side have engaged in deadly combat — until the recent skirmishes in the Galwan Valley.

1987 Sino-Indian skirmish, a Military conflict

The Sino-Indian skirmish 1987 in Arunachal Pradesh is a conflict where India-China came close to a full-fledged war. But Indian diplomacy, timely caution, and aggression managed to avoid war and brought China to the table.

IT happened at the end of 1986 when India granted statehood to Arunachal Pradesh, land claimed by China. The Chinese started to protest. 

The army movements in Tawang, combined with this political action, were seen as incitement by the Chinese. 

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In early 1987 China’s tone became similar to that of 1962, and the Indian Army refused to stand down, West diplomats predicted an all-out war between both nations.

 The timely visit of the External Affairs Minister in Beijing in May 1987 helped to lower the border tension.

A few months later, Realizing the potential to start a war unwittingly, both India and China de-escalated, and the war was prevented in the Sumdorong Chu area. 

Later, in 1993, the two countries signed an agreement to ensure peace along the LAC.

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2013 Daulat Beg Oldi incident

After decades of patrolling on the border, Chinese unrest started, and their platoon pitched a camp 30 km south of Daulat Beg Oldi Ladakh near Line of Actual Control (LAC) in April 2013. India soon followed, setting up their base, less than 300 meters away.

Troops later fortified the camps, and heavy equipment and position were braced and supported by trucks and helicopters

On May 5, both sides had agreed to withdraw and dismantle the structures, but disputes about the exact location of the Line of Actual persisted.

2017 China India border standoff or Doklam standoff 2017

In June 2017, the Chinese started constructing a road in Doklam near a trijunction border area, an area of the Himalayas controlled by our ally Bhutan.

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The plateau lies on the border of Bhutan and China, but it is a buffer zone close to other disputed areas with China.

Indian troops carrying heavy war equipment and bulldozers confronted the Chinese Army intending to dismantle the road completely. Resulting in a standoff, both the soldiers threw stones at each other, and both sides suffered injuries.

In August, the countries agreed to withdraw from the area, and China stopped construction on the road Resulting in Tactical Indian victory.

The 2020 skirmishes

The 2020 skirmish between New Delhi and Beijing, marked the first combat casualties along the LAC in more than four decades.

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Since May 5, 2020, Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in various types of aggressive military actions, face-offs, and skirmishes at several locations along the Sino-Indian border, including disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh, Tibet Autonomous Region, and near the border between Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

 Additional clashes are also ongoing in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which has been there since the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

 June 15, 2020, marked the most violent hand to hand combat in decades between Indian and Chinese Army, On inhospitable mountainous terrains situated 13,500 ft above sea level, where temperatures always remain below zero. 

Which resulted in the death of 43 Chinese army personnel and 20 Indian army troops were also killed in action

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Indian forces displayed supreme bravery and heroism while combating the PLA soldiers.

The Unprofessional Chinese Army used sticks, clubs with barbed wires, and specially carved stones to attack Indian army troops

Article 6 of the treaty on confidence-building measures signed by India and China in November 1996, restrict the two countries’ to patrol with guns, conduct blast operations within two kilometers from the Line of Actual Control (LAC)”.

Diplomatic talks

After the first brawl that happened, on 5–6 May 2020 at Pangong Tso, Foreign Secretary of India called the Chinese ambassador to India.

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 Then, Ajit Doval reportedly talked to the CCP Politburo member, Yang Jiechi, a top diplomat under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping.

 On May 28, during a news conference, the Indian spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs said that there are enough bilateral mechanisms to resolve border disputes diplomatic channels.

There are Five bilateral treaties between India and China to deal with the border situation.

1993: Agreement to keep peace and tranquility along the LAC along the Sino-Indian Border

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1954: The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known as the Panchsheel Treaty: Non-interference in others internal affairs and respect for each other’s territorial unity integrity and sovereignty (from Sanskrit, panch: five, sheel: virtues), are a set of principles to govern relations between states

1996: Agreement between India and the Republic of China on confidence-building Measures within the military field along the LAC along the Sino-Indian Border

2005: Pact on the modalities for the implementation of confidence-building measures within the military area along LAC along the Sino-Indian Border

2012: installing a working mechanism for consultation and coordination on border affairs

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2013: Border defense cooperation agreement(BDCA) was signed between India and China

The Border personnel meeting (BPM) points have seen rounds of military talks in May–June; first between colonels, between brigadiers, and then finally, on June 2, with three rounds of discussions between significant generals negotiations were unsuccessful. 

On June 6, 2020, the lieutenant general-level talks happened between India and China in Chushul-Moldo. The discussions involved the Indian commander of Leh (XIV Corps) and the Chinese commander of the Tibet Military District (South Xinjiang Military Region).

Following the Galwan clash, Chinese flags and effigies of Paramount Leader Xi Jinping were set ablaze in various places across India; multiple groups registered their protests in several ways. On June 17, 2020, PM Modi addressed the state regarding the Galwan conflicts, giving a firm message directed at China over the deaths of Indian soldiers. 

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…Neither has anyone intruded into the Indian territory nor is anyone inside our area now. Anyone captures none of our military posts…

PM Narendra Modi on June 19, 2020; PMO’s office later clarified that the quote was about the Galwan Valley clash on the 15/16th and its aftermath,

Since the beginning of the border dispute between the foreign ministers of China and India, the primary communication happened post-Galwan skirmish. India maintained and accused China in the Galwan valley clash to be “premeditated and planned”.

The second round of the commander’s meeting was held on June 22. In an 11-hour reception, the commanders figured out a disengagement protocol. On June 24, this disengagement was then diplomatically acknowledged by each side during the virtual meeting of the “Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs”.

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Economic response

Sonam Wangchuk appealed to Indians to use wallet power and help in boycotting Chinese goods. This appeal was covered by prominent media houses and gained support from various celebrities, after the Galwan Valley clash on June 15, 2020.

The Indian Railways canceled a contract with a Chinese firm, 

The Department of Telecommunication notified BSNL not to use any Chinese pieces of equipment in 4G upgradation.

Mumbai canceled a monorail contract where the sole bidders were Chinese companies; 

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Numerous Chinese contractors and companies are under government watch following the Galwan clash, ensuring the Chinese don’t have access to India’s strategic markets.

The Haryana government canceled a young associate with an influence project during which Chinese firms had put in a bid.

 The Uttar Pradesh government Special Task Force personnel got orders to delete 52 apps, including TikTok and WeChat for security reasons, and officials in Madhya Pradesh Police got an advisory.

 The Maharashtra government put ₹5,000 crores (US$700 million) worth of Chinese projects on hold

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Of the highest 30 unicorn startups in India, 18 startups have Chinese investments.

 The Indian government has asked all the e-commerce website to display the country of origin on all the items they sell

recently India banned 59 Chinese apps

For more info on economic response read our article can India boycott Chinese goods 

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SurajGENUINEMATTERS | GENUINE MATTERS
Suraj
Focus on breaking the news and solving real world problems, well-versed in negotiations, planning and development, and team coordination. Believes that learning should never be stopped, he takes great interest in issues related to India and world

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