Indo-China standoff; the tactical face of strategic contest.


The entire Sino-Indian border (including the western LAC, the small undisputed section in the centre, and the McMahon Line in the East) is 4,056 km long and traverses the disputed territory of Ladakh, and four Indian states: Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and disputed Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing has never recognised the 1914 boundary, known as the McMahon Line, and currently claims 90,000 square kilometres - nearly all of what constitutes India's Arunachal Pradesh state, which was clearly stated to the visiting Indian Prime Minister Nehru in 1959 by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. Subsequently, the border dispute led to the 1962 Indo-China War, in which India was humiliated and lost a lot of territory; Beijing retained Aksai Chin, a strategic corridor linking Tibet to China. India still claims the entire Aksai Chin region as its own, as well as the nearby China-controlled Shaksgam valley in northern Kashmir. Brief and small-scale skirmishes took place in 1967 at Nathu La, India's highest mountain pass in the north-eastern Sikkim state and in 1975, at Tulung La Arunachal Pradesh. In 2017, India and China had a months-long high-altitude standoff in Bhutan's Doklam region; however, the issue was resolved after talks. The Doklam plateau is strategically significant as it gives China access to the so-called 'chicken's neck' or Siliguri Corridor, which is a narrow stretch of land of about 22 kilometres connecting India's seven north-eastern sister states with the mainland (i.e. Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura). These seven states have always remained simmering with independence movements like Indian Occupied Kashmir and have mostly been ruled by local nationalist political parties.

On May 5, 2020, a scuffle broke out between Indian and Chinese troops at the Pangong Tso Lake, located 14,000 feet (4,270 meters) above the sea level in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. A video shared on social media showed soldiers from both nations engaged in fistfights and stone-pelting at the Line of Actual Control/Contact (LAC). Three days later and nearly 1,200km (745 miles) away to the east along the LAC, another fight erupted at Nathu La Pass in the Indian claimed state of Sikkim. Since then, the India-China border has seen soldiers from both sides camping along several disputed areas, with each side accusing the other of trespassing. At least 10,000 PLA soldiers are now believed to be camping on what India claims to be...

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