According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, “At present, the overall situation in the China-India border areas is stable and controllable. On border-related issues, there have been sound mechanisms and channels of communication between China and India, and the two sides are capable of properly resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation.”
Over the past few weeks, Chinese and Indian troops have been locked in aggressive posturing at multiple locations along the two nations’ de facto border, known as Line of Actual Control (LAC), raising tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
Border skirmishes are not new to the 3,488km long frontier between India and China, most of which remain disputed and not demarked yet. The two countries fought a war in 1962, but the border issues have lingered on and remained unresolved yet. China claims about 90,000 square kilometers in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, referred to informally by some Chinese as “Southern Tibet.” India, on the other hand, claims sovereignty over 38,000 square kilometers of the Aksai Chin plateau. More than a dozen rounds of talks have failed to make substantial progress in the dispute, although there have been relatively few confrontations in recent years, and no shot has been fired since the 1970s.
The origin of disputes goes back to 1947 when Britsh left the sub-continent, and British-India emerged into two countries India and Pakistan. That was the time when China was passing through a civil war between the Government of Nationalist Party (Guo Ming Dang) and the Communist Party of China (CPS). A weak and naïve government of that time in Beijing was struggling for its own survival and least bothered with its International borders. British, understanding the weakness of China, marked some of the strategic areas into India. Unjust demarcation of the border, deliberately or unintentionally, was the real cause of disputes.
Later on, India being a close ally to former USSR, was rival to China and took several steps to against China, which forced a brief war between India and China in 1962. It is worth mentioning that the relations between China and Russia got soared in the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
A standoff at Doklam arose in 2017, which prolonged for 73 days, but Chinese big country diplomacy played a role, and tension dissolved. PM Modi met President Xi in Wuhan, China, in May 2018 and October 2019 in Chennai, India, aiming the co-exist as peaceful neighbors.
However, Indian rivalry continued silently. India kept its support for Dalai Lama’s exiled Tibet-Government based in New Delhi. It was openly opposing the Chinese mega Initiative of BRI, which is included in the constitution of the People’s Republic of China. Especially resistance and sabotage of CPEC, the flagship project of BRI. Indian joining Indo-Pacific Treaty with the US, Japan, and Australia to contain China has become an open threat to China. The singing of Major Defense Partner (MDP) agreement with the US is also not in favor of China. Indian over-tilt toward the US and anti-China sentiments were witnessed exponential increase und PM Modi Government. India was clearly aligning with the US in its war against China. Furthermore, many other measures have created a massive tension between China and India.
The immediate cause of tension flared up since the beginning of May 2020, when India was found in building airstrips and infrastructures in the disputed territory of Ladakh. According to the agreement between the US and India, both countries can use each other’s military bases for war purposes. The Airbase in Ladakh was strategically dangerous for China, which can be used by the US against China in case of war. Furthermore, India included Ladakh into Union territory on August 5, 2019, unilaterally. Although it was a recognized disputed territory and India was not supposed to take any action unilaterally. India was planning to cut off the land link between China and Pakistan, harming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Indian aggressive moves forced China to take preventive measures.
India cannot face China in any manner because India betrayed China in all aspects. At the same time, PM Modi announced something different during the last two summits and acted in a completely different manner. India can not compete with China on either front, like the economy, defense, social development, or S&T. Indian disgruntled Army, dysfunctional war machines, a weak economy, unstable society, a radical approach, may not face China.
The only hope for PM Modi was his savior President Trump, who is not in a position to rescue him anymore. The only option left with India is to compromise with China and accept the actions taken by China, give-up its aggressive designs against China, and surrender. India must learn to co-exist with its neighboring countries and recognize the right of existence for its neighbors. A diplomatic and peaceful resolution of all disputes with all its neighbors is strongly recommended for India.
The Author is a Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.