Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Mapping: Pangong Tso Lake

Helicopters of the Chinese Army came close to the border during the face-off with the Indian Army near Pangong Tso Lake in Eastern Ladakh last week.

Keep a watch on some facts related to the Pangong Tso Lake like nearby rivers, passes, Ramsar status etc.

Aircraft restricted near LAC

  • As per existing agreements between India and China, operation of fighter aircraft and armed helicopters is restricted to a distance from the LAC.
  • According to the Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the LAC in India-China Border Area’ of 1996 combat aircraft (to include fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, military trainer, armed helicopter and other armed aircraft) shall not fly within 10 km of the LAC.

Pangong Tso Lake

  • Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m.
  • It is 134 km long and extends from India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China.
  • Approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies within the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
  • The lake is 5 km wide at its broadest point. All together it covers 604 sq.km.
  • During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water.
  • It is not a part of the Indus river basin area and geographically a separate landlocked river basin.
  • Formerly, Pangong Tso had an outlet to Shyok River, a tributary of Indus River, but it was closed off due to natural damming.
  • The lake is in the process of being identified under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance.
  • This will be the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia under the convention.

Back2Basics: India-China Border Dispute

The India-China borders disputes exist between three regions:

1) J&K region

  • The Aksai Chin sector which originally was a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is claimed by China as part of its autonomous Xinjiang region.
  • After the 1962 war, it is administered by China. It is the second-largest Indo-China border area covering over 38000 sq. km. However, it is uninhabited land.
  • While India claims the entire Aksai Chin territory as well as the Shaksgam valley (Indian Territory gifted to China by Pakistan), China contests Indian control over Daulat Beg Oldi (a tehsil in Leh south of Aksai China-it is believed to host the world’s highest airstrip).

2) Sikkim region

  • China has recognised India’s sovereignty over Sikkim and had initiated the trade at Nathu La pass.
  • However, this is the region where the Doklam standoff took place.

3) Arunachal Pradesh Region

  • The Arunachal Pradesh border that China still claims to be its own territory is the largest disputed area, covering around 90000 sq. km.
  • It was formally called North-East Frontier Agency.
  • During the 1962 war, the People’s Liberation Army occupied it but they announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew respecting the international boundary (Mcmahon Line).
  • However, it has continued to assert its claim over the territory.
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