Escalated tension between the two nuclear-armed Asian neighbours after deaths of 20 Indian soldiers has drawn international concerns, with the United Nations urging both sides “to exercise maximum restraint”.
China and India are in a tense standoff on military as well as diplomatic fronts since May this year and escalation situation deteriorated after their first deadly border fight in more than 44 years took place, since 1975. The incident took place on Jun 15 in the Galwan valley, an inhospitable land, when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a hand-to-hand combat in which not a single bullet was fired. China has not so far declared its casualties.
Troops of the world’s two most populous countries have been engaged in the standoff since early May at several points along the 3,500km (2,200-mile) Line of Actual Control.
Five most crucial things to know about the feud are as follows:
What happened on Jun 15?
India blamed that China had built two tents and an observation tower in its territory in Galwan valley, despite the fact that their military high-ups had reached an agreement on de-escalation on Jun 6. Later, the tents and the other structure were demolished by Indian soldiers. Then, a large group of Chinese troops arrived and had a quarrel with Indian soldiers. Soon after that, a fight broke out, leaving 20 Indian soldiers dead and two dozen others wounded.
Why did the clash take place?
Experts cite two reasons mainly behind the fresh skirmishes. One is the repealing of Article 370 of the constitution by the Indian government, which annuls autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir including the Ladakh part which has disputed territory with China.
The other main reason is the late construction activities by India in border areas as India had inaugurated a 255km road in 2019 along the disputed area.
What is each side claiming?
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in a statement had said that the Indian troops had twice crossed the Line of Actual Control, “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, which led to serious physical conflicts between the two sides.”
Chinese military had demanded India to stop all provocations and return to dialogue.
While, India’s foreign office had warned China against making “exaggerated and untenable claims” on the Galwan valley.
India blames China of occupying 38,000 sq km of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas. On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement a week ago stirred controversy. He had said that China did not take over any of India’s territory.
In a tweet, opposition leader Rahul Gandhi referred to an article published in Japan Times and said that Narendra Modi is actually a Surrender Modi. The article claimed that India’s policy of appeasement has failed to deter China.
Who holds the advantage?
A senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Ashley Tellis said the fresh development in the Ladakh region leaves India with “painful” choices.
“Beijing has moved into disputed territories that did not host a continual Chinese presence as recently as January 2020,” he had said on June 4, days before the fighting.
Along brawl with China, India has brewed what experts describe as ‘cartographic war’ with its another neighbor, Nepal, over border regions. Nepal’s parliament has approved a new map which includes some area of India. While, Pakistan on its west side already a long-standing rival.
Indian citizens and traders have given a knee-jerk reaction to the Chinese advances on border demanding from the government to boycott import of Chinese products.
Large protests were held against Chinese goods and China’s flags were also burnt. China is India’s largest trading partner with annual bilateral trade worth 92 billion dollars.
India and China were scheduled to hold top-level military talks on the Chinese side of the border on Jun 22 to discuss the Galwan face-off and other points of dispute in a bid to defuse the tension.
Lieutenant General-level talks will be held at Moldo on the Chinese side of Chushul in eastern Ladakh.