Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China builds a new village in Arunachal Pradesh


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : McMahon Line

Mains level : India-China border tensions

Satellite images show that China has constructed a new village in Arunachal Pradesh, around 4.5 kilometres inside of the de facto border on the Indian side.

Indian and Chinese soldiers have confronted each other in their deadliest clash in decades in Ladakh last year and the earlier one in Doklam. Now another front has been opened up by China in Arunachal.

This year could face another ugliest standoffs and skirmishes.

Location of the village

  • The village, located on the banks of the River Tsari Chu, lies in the Upper Subansiri district.
  • It is an area that has been long disputed by India and China and has been marked by armed conflict.
  • Sources in the defense ministry have said that Beijing has, for years, maintained an army post on this territory, and the various constructions by the Chinese have not happened suddenly.

Background of the story

  • China’s June 1959 operation known as the Longju incident reportedly accused Indian troops of occupying some places in Tibet and colluding with Tibetan rebels.
  • In August same year, the PLA clashed with the Indian personnel of the 9 Assam Rifles.
  • Two Indian soldiers were killed in action and the issue was finally resolved through diplomatic channels. Both sides withdrew from the area on August 20, 1960.
  • And the Assam Rifles then did not re-occupy the post.
  • In the late 1990s however, China established a company level post 3 kilometers inside the Indian Territory. Since then, the area remains contested to this day.

India and Arunachal

  • Arunachal Pradesh (called South Tibet in China) is a full-fledged state of India.
  • India’s sovereignty over the area is internationally recognized and its residents have not shown any inclination to leave India.
  • The majority of the international maps acknowledge the area to be an Indian Territory.
  • China has some (pre-) historical claims through its ownership of Tibet, but the people and geography primarily favor India.

Back2Basics: Chinese claim over Arunachal Pradesh

  • When the new Peoples Republic of China was formed in February 1912 after the abdication of the Qing emperor, the Tibetans asserted their independence.
  • They forced the Chinese troops based in Lhasa to return to the mainland-via India. A year later, Tibet declared independence from China.
  • In order to ensure that the unrest did not spread to India and assert their boundaries, the ruling British convened a tripartite meeting at Shimla with Tibetan and Chinese delegates to define the border.
  • The meeting gave China suzerainty over most of Tibet, and the boundary defined in this treaty was later known as the McMohan line.

Chinese reluctance

  • The essential dispute is over China’s refusal to acknowledge the McMohan Line as the border between the two nations, and staking claim to large tracts of land as a contiguous part of Tibet.
  • However, it laid claim to the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In the 16th century, the most important heritage of the state – Tawang Monastery was built. This is one of the most important sites for Tibetan Buddhists.
  • China never recognized Tibet’s independence nor the 1914 Simla convention.
  • In 1950 China completely took over Tibet. Thus, according to their version, the Tawang region belongs to them.
  • It especially wants to hold on to the monastery as that is a leading center of Tibetan Buddhism in India.

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