India-China: between pre-1962 and now

Source– The post is based on the article “India-China: between pre-1962 and now” published in The Hindu on 2nd January 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- India and its neighbourhood relationship

Relevance– Bilateral relationship between India and China

News– The article explains the similarities and differences between India-China bilateral relations and the situation along LAC in the 1960s and now.

What are the differences between India- China bilateral conduct in the 1960s and now?

The focus in the 1950s was on the “territorial dispute”of Aksai Chin and NEFA. Today, China is firmly in occupation of Aksai Chin and India is firm in guarding its territorial integrity in Arunachal Pradesh. The immediate issue is transgressions along the LAC.

The differences in the western sector are no longer confined to the Daulet Beg Oldie and Demchok as was the case in earlier decades. China is now seeking claims in the Depsang, Galwan, Pangong Lake and Hot Springs areas.

The border infrastructure on the Indian side was in poor condition earlier. But now, India is rapidly building its border infrastructure.

In 1962, India was forced to approach the U.S. and other Western countries for military assistance to meet the Chinese challenge. In the current phase, India has rapidly inducted new weapon systems.

In the 1950s, China did not claim open support for Pakistan, including on Kashmir. China’s support for Pakistan on Kashmir became self-apparent in the 1960s. Today, China openly works with Pakistan against India’s interests .

The biggest difference between the situation in the 1960s and now is the political will of the Modi government and the determination of the Indian army to block Chinese patrols.

What has not changed in their bilateral relations?

Traditionally, China has enjoyed an advantage in terms of terrain and logistics in Tibet. China has always projected a spurious interpretation of the LAC. It has shied away from clarifying its position through exchanges of large-scale maps.

China’s internal vulnerabilities have always impacted bilateral relations with India. Tibet has remained a source of insecurity for China.

In the late 1950s, Mao Zedong adopted an aggressive stance towards India for consolidating his leadership in the face of internal challenges and avoiding criticism of disastrous political and economic policies.

Today, Mr. Xi is facing challenges for the dreadful Zero-COVID policy, and growing authoritarianism. The tendency to create external diversions is a common thread.

The LAC between India and China is frequently open to challenge by either side. There are areas along the LAC that have been patrolled by both sides in the past.

In the middle, the Barahoti pasture north of Chamoli in Uttarakhand has been at the centre of the dispute for the past seven decades.

In the eastern sector, the international boundary and the LAC are defined by the 1914 McMahon Line. Yet, China seeks to make inroads in the Tawang sector, Upper Subansiri region, and near the tri-junction with Myanmar.

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