News Excerpt

Recently, Satellite imagery has emerged of China setting up villages in hitherto uninhabited stretches on its disputed borders with India and Bhutan, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh, with experts saying the move could be aimed at buttressing Beijing’s territorial claims.

Highlights

  • Several villages have come up in the tri-junction between India, Bhutan and China, and the move follows the upgrading and construction of Chinese military facilities, including heliports and missile bases, all along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the aftermath of the 2017 standoff at Doklam.
  • According to Dr. Brahma Chellaney, China has been using a strategy of settling Han Chinese and Tibetan members of the Communist Party along the India border to strengthen its territorial claims and escalate border intrusions.
  • In September 2017, the Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat, then Army Chief, had warned of China's efforts at `salami slicing' into Indian territory. The salami slicing is technique of taking over territory in a very gradual manner.

Pre-Connect

  • China disputes the legal status of the boundary in the North-Eastern region and Chinese maps continue to show 65,000 square kilometers of territory south of the line as being a part of Beijing's South Tibet Region.
  • India, which has rejected Beijing's claim for decades, insists that the historic McMohan line proposed by the British administrator Sir Henry McMohan at the 1914 Shimla Convention defines the boundary here.

Analytica

Changing Dynamics in India-China Relations

  • In 2018, PM Modi and President Jinping agreed to maintain peace along the border at the Wuhan summit.
  • India and China’s collective economies make up over 17% of the entire global economy. Also, China is India’s primary trading partner with annual trade worth $92 billion. They have attempted to increase cooperation and build confidence measures by undertaking joint projects including a training program for Afghan diplomats and reviving the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor.
  • However, these efforts are undermined by the pervasive feeling of distrust between the two states and the echoes of Cold War history. Also, the summits and efforts of cooperation have not stopped the outbreaks of violence, nor have they solved any of the underlying issues.
  • Underlying issues that strain the Sino-Indian relationship include nuclear weapons, China’s support for Pakistan, the situation in Tibet and India’s sheltering of the Dalai Lama, the Chinese navy making an appearance in Indian waters and Indian foreign policy.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has added pressure to Sino-Indian relations as the Indian general public blame China for the outbreak thus causing an anti-China sentiment.
  • Both states have downplayed the recent stand-off’s as short-term and temporary incidents. However, if relations continue to sour over territorial boundaries and the border remains unresolved, this could compromise their economic relationship.
  • To prevent prolonged crisis, China would need to withdraw its aggressive position voluntarily through peaceful negotiations with India. Further, India should tread with caution as neighbouring countries including Sri Lanka and Nepal are becoming increasingly supportive of China.