From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : China's attempts to use cartography as a weapon
- The Chinese leadership has been using cartographic deception as a weapon to violate the sovereign national boundaries of its neighbours, and India has been a victim of this deception since Independence. The recent rechristening of villages and areas in Arunachal Pradesh is another example of China’s cartographic deception, and India must remain vigilant against such tactics.
Background: India-China relations
- Historical context:
- India has been a victim of China’s deception since its independence.
- Mao’s Red Army sent messages to Indian Communists promising support in their violent liberation struggle to overthrow the government of Jawaharlal Nehru.
- In the early 1950s, China started staking claims to large parts of Indian territory.
- Cartographic deception used by China:
- Cartographic deception is integral to the Chinese leadership’s machinations.
- China has been indulging in cartographic deception by staking claims to large parts of Indian territory.
- The recent rechristening of villages and areas in Arunachal Pradesh by the Chinese cabinet is another example of that cartographic deception.
- Despite President Xi Jinping’s claims of standing guard over the world order based on international law, China continues to use cartography as a weapon to violate sovereign national boundaries of its neighbours.
How cartography is used as a weapon?
- Deliberate manipulation of maps: The term use of cartography as a weapon refers to the deliberate manipulation of maps for political and strategic purposes. This can involve drawing new borders or redefining existing borders, claiming territory that was previously not contested or that belonged to another country, and renaming places to support these claims.
- Psychological warfare technique: It is often accompanied by historical revisionism, propaganda, and the creation of artificial historical links to justify these claims. This approach can be seen as a form of psychological warfare, intended to create confusion, weaken the opponent’s resolve, and undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.
Historical background of Arunachal Pradesh
- No contact with China: Historically, Arunachal Pradesh had no contact with China, and there was never any Chinese presence there.
- Shimla Agreement: The McMahon Line, which became the international boundary between India and Tibet through the Shimla Agreement between the British and Tibetan governments in 1914, clearly puts Tawang, which fell south of the McMahon Line, out of Tibetan administrative control.
- Claims over Tawang: Attempts by pro-China historians to claim that parts of Western Arunachal Pradesh like Tawang were under the rule of Lhasa before 1950 are negated by historical records.
Chinese invasion of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962
- During the Chinese invasion of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962, they were extra-cordial with the locals and made special efforts to convince them about the greater racial affinity between them.
- However, despite all the deceptive maneuvers during the 49-day-long occupation, the Chinese could not win over the hearts and minds of the people of NEFA.
- India must remain vigilant against China’s cartographic deception, as it was through a similar deception in 1962 that China annexed territory. India has dismissed the recent rechristening exercise by China, and rightly emphasised that Arunachal Pradesh is, has been, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. India must continue to stand firm against China’s attempts to use cartography as a weapon to violate its sovereign national boundaries.