The cause of tension between China and India
The cause of tension between China and India by Zamir Awan for the Saker
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “positive consensus” on resolving the latest border issue was achieved following “effective communication” through diplomatic and military channels. New Delhi said the two countries had agreed to “peacefully resolve” the border flare-up after a high-level meeting between army commanders. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping had sought to ease the tensions at summits over the past two years when they agreed to boost border communications between their militaries.
Tensions flare on a fairly regular basis between the two regional powers over their 3,500-kilometre frontier, which has never been properly demarcated. Thousands of troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbors have been involved in the latest face-off since May in India’s Ladakh region, bordering Tibet – before signs in recent days that a resolution was in sight.
The recent issue arose when India fortified its position in Ladakh disputed territory, which India included in its union territory on August 5, 2019, unilaterally. In contrast, it was a recognized disputed territory, and both countries having a claim over the area. India was illegally trespassing and constructing defense facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region, leaving Chinese border troops no other option but to make necessary moves in response. India wants to build an airbase in the disputed territory. It is worth mentioning that, under a defense agreement, between the US and India, both countries can have access to each other’s military bases and have the right to use in case of any war-like situations. It was a direct threat to China if American uses Ladakh Airbase against China. That was the immediate concern of the Chinese side and left with no option to stop construction works in the disputed territory.
In India, the focus has been turned to the Durbuk- Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldi Road (DSBDBO) along the Galwan River — which runs more or less parallel to the LAC (Line of Actual Control) and improves India’s access to the Karakoram Highway — as the possible trigger point for the latest flare-up between China and India. India has designs to cut the land link between China and Pakistan to harm CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). That is why India was fortifying its infrastructure close to Khunjrab-Pass, connecting China and Pakistan.
However, China remains much more concerned about the newly constructed 80-kilometer stretch from Dharchula to Lipulekh (the gateway to Kailash-Mansarovar, a site for Hindu pilgrimage in Tibet), completed on April 17 and inaugurated on May 8 by Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. That may have led Beijing to review the situation at the China-India borders.
In the Chinese assessment, India’s construction activity in the disputed areas with Nepal has affected China’s border security in Tibet. By building the 80 km stretch (76 km has been completed recently, and the last 4 km of the road to Lipulekh Pass is expected to be completed by the year’s end), India has moved its frontier vis-a-vis China, gaining direct access to the concrete highway in Purang county in Tibet. It has thereby changed the status quo in the region. China already has border defense roads in Purang county on the middle border, and Cona county on the southern border with India and a Chinese airport in Purang is scheduled to be completed in 2021. Despite its preparedness on its side of the border, China is concerned that India still has much room for maneuver, using Nepal’s geographical advantage to challenge China’s dominant position in the region.