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Galwan valley imbroglio: What is behind the standoff between India and China?

By Shabir Ahmad*
What is behind the Ladakh standoff along the India-China borders? India was carrying on some construction activity along its side of line of actual control in the Galwan valley, as there was no real dispute on the area. After all, it was for long considered part of Indian territory.
However, for the first time in more than four-and-a-half decades, China began claiming the Galwan valley as its territory. It all began with “Global Times”, referred to as the mouthpiece of the Chinese government, claiming that the Galwan was “always” a part of China.
When the Indian side was constructing roads, the Chinese side began interfering, infiltrating into the line of actual control, and entered the Galwan valley. India constructing roads and other installations on its side of line of actual is said to have infuriated China, leading to the Chinese army crossing the line of actual control and entered the Galwan valley.
Following the tensions that ensued, the two sides decides to deescalate. The deescalation meant that China would withdraw from the Galwan valley. But China also wanted India also to withdraw from the Galwan, which India said belongs to it – which is where the ambiguity arose.
No one knows whether the both the sides withdrew from Galwan. What one knows is that there was standoff at night amidst the de-escalation process. Tents were attacked and burned, resulting in fist fights, leading to the reported death of 20 Indian army personnel and 43 Chinese army personnel.
There have also been reports – though uncofirmed – that during the fist fight some of the armymen from both the sides fell into the icy water of Galwan river. So, the number of casualties were possibly much higher – which is what makes the current escalation as one of the deadliest, requiring resolution.
China is expanding not only its territorial claims, it is also trying to expand its influence militarily and economically on the region. The aggressive position of China in the South China Sea, the dispute with Japan, rising tension between China and US, with India moving closer to the US, and events like Howdy Modi and Namaste Trump – all together have generated a lot of mistrust in the Chinese mind. In fact, The Chinese authorities have begun viewing India as a proxy of US in the neighbourhood.
Amidst these developments, US has struck a deal with the Taliban on Afghanistan – considered a huge victory for Pakistan. After all, ìt was Pakistan which brought Taliban on the negotiating table with US. India was found missing from the entire episode.
Bangladesh, Nepal, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan have all begun posing serious diplomatic challenge to Govt of India
Then, Nepal has begun claiming some areas which India considers its part. A new, amended Nepal has been approved by its Parliament. Some of Indian territories such as Kala Pani are shown as as part of Nepal. And Bangladesh, which was once considered to be a shining example of India's diplomacy, is upset with India because of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Thus, Bangladesh, Nepal, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan have all begun posing serious diplomatic challenge to the Government of India. Surely, things have got further complicate following the standoff between India and China.
Meanwhile, the “Foreign Policy” magazine has noticed an interesting twist in the India-China standoff by stating that the Government of India's actions on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by diluting Article 370, reorganizing the state of J&K into two Union territories, has given an “opening” to China to interfere.
According to this interpretation, J&K became an Indian state after the Constituent Assembly of J&K gave gave its own constitution in 1956-57, unambiguously stating that it is an integral part of India as it existed on August 15, 1947. However, on August 5-6, 2019 the Government of India discarded the J&K Constitution, which had made the entire territory of J&K as an integral part of India.
This allegedly gave China an open hand to interfere in J&K. According to some experts, this change would embolden China to come to the negotiating table, stating that, since there is no state of J&K, whose constitution has been abolished, there cannot be any territorial definition of the state of J&K either.
Things may have got complicate following Home Minister Amit Shah's statement in Parliament while moving the resolutions on Article 370, that the entire region of Aksai Chin (Aksai Chin is considered as part of Ladakh by India, but China considers it as part of their autonomous region called Zing Zang province) is also an Indian territory. This is also said to have infuriated the Chinese authorities.
In this complex situation, it is more appropriate that, instead of lieutenant generals of both sides talking, Foreign Minister-level dialogue should be initiated, which alone can go a long way in de-escalate the tension.
---
*Freelance writer from Raiyar Doodhpathri, J&K, writes regularly on current affairs, IAS aspirant

Comments

Anonymous said…
very informative.
An article that is very relevant in the current scenario of standoff at Ladakh, as well as India's current relation with its neighbouring country

Pravin Patel.

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