Brief History of Indo-China Border Dispute

Map Showing Location of India and China Troops Clash in Ladakh and Sikkim
Maps depicting location of India and China troops clash in Ladakh (May 5 and May 6, 2020) and Sikkim (May 10, 2020)

Border tensions between two nuclear powers India and China have once again erupted as stone-pelting from the troops of both sides took place in Ladakh and Sikkim on Saturday. The clash resulted in injuries to several soldiers on both sides. But this is not the first time such conflicts are happening.

What happened in May 2020?

First clash in eastern Ladakh

The Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a skirmish. The first clash occurred on May 5 and 6 in eastern Ladakh, when the two sides had heated arguments after aggressive patrolling. This is the area where both countries had deployed additional troops to strengthen their border area. It is also the area where the two neighbouring countries had fought a high pitched battle in the 1962 war. In 2017, the incident of pelting stones also occurred between the two sides in this region.

Second clash in north Sikkim

The second clash occurred around May 10 between the Chinese and the Indian soldiers at an altitude of over 5,000-metre in the Naku La sector in north Sikkim. Stone-pelting and physical brawl between the soldiers of both countries on Saturday resulted in injury to several soldiers. Army Command officers visited the affected areas to know the exact situation.

History of the tension

Sino-Indian Border Dispute in 1962

The border dispute between the two countries resulted in a war between China and India in 1962. India had not anticipated such an attack by China. The Indian Army was not fully prepared for the war. When China launched an attack on October 20, 1962, the number of Indian troops was between 10,000-20,000 while China had 80,000 strong troops. The battle continued for one month and ended on November 21, 1962. In this clash, the Chinese forces captured Aksai Chin and Demchok region of Ladakh.

Two more border conflicts in 1967

Two more border conflicts took place between the two countries in 1967. The first dispute started the Nathu La (Sikkim) Incident and the other the “Cho La”. The troops of both sides clashed at Nathu La. Heavy artillery firing between the Indian and Chinese forces took place. The clash lasted just four days. The Indian Armed Forces had provided a tough challenge to their Chinese counterpart. In this fight, over 70 Indian soldiers were killed, but the Chinese casualties were high. It is estimated that more than 400 Chinese troops were killed in four day’s war against India. Another clash took place at Cho La (Sikkim) in October 1967 but ended on the same day.

India and China conflict over Tibet

In the era of the 1950s, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Zedong had an eye on Tibet. He considered Tibet is a territory of China.

A significant irritant for China has been India’s stanch to provide asylum to the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader. His Holiness, in 1959 (along with tens of thousands of his disciples), was granted refuge in India. This move came in light of China considering Dalai Lama, a dangerous separatist leader.

Since then, the tension between India and China over Tibet continues despite several rounds of diplomatic talks.

Start of the diplomatic tie in 1979

In the India vs Pakistan war of 1971, China came in support of Pakistan but later retracted its support to Pakistan. After that, the relationship between India and China improved. The External Affairs Minister in 1978 Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited China and both the countries officially agreed to start a diplomatic relationship in 1979.

Conflict in 1986 near Arunachal Pradesh

Once again tension was underway between the two nations in 1986 near the Sumdorong Chu Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. In 1986, Chinese forces gathered at Sumdorong. But the Indian Armed Forces came strongly and challenged the Chinese troops. Chinese troops could not dare to move further into the valley. Later that time, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and foreign minister N.D. Tiwari visited Beijing to reduce the tension between the two nations.

Doklam dispute of 2017

The Doklam dispute started in 2017 when China asked India to withdraw its troops from this area before any talk. India wanted withdrawal of troops from both sides, and the disagreement resulted in both the countries moving additional infantry battalions, tanks, artillery, in the region. Both the armies of the countries were at a standoff against each other for 73 days. But gradually, the situation became normal, and everything settled down.

The border areas of China and India, by and large, were peaceful since the three months Doklam conflict in 2017.

Skirmish of 2019

Before the skirmish of 2020, the last time the troops of both the countries clashed was on the northern bank of the 134-km long Pangong Tso. Two-thirds of the area is under the control of China. This incident occurred in September 2019.

The relationship between China and India has always remained on the edge of the sword. Therefore, frequent border clashes erupt between the two nations.

Related Link:

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