Line of Actual Control: Past tense, present uncertain

Source: The post is based on an article “Line of Actual Control: Past tense, present uncertain” published in The Indian Express on 16th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations

Relevance: India – China border dispute

News: The article discusses the border dispute between India and China and the dispute of Tawang.

What is the current issue between the two countries?

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Tibet Autonomous Region and describes it as south Tibet. It views Tawang as an area of strategic importance for its control over Tibet and its Buddhist leadership.

Further, India and China have differing perceptions of the LAC at many places.

However, Tawang appeared as an agreed disputed point unlike Gogra, Hot Springs and Galwan where no overlapping has taken place.

Further, there has been a marginal increase in patrolling by the PLA in some areas. Chinese were also building housing infrastructure close to the LAC on their side which has enabled higher troop presence.

What has been the past disputes between India and China over McMahon Line?

India has always considered McMahon line as a settled boundary between the two nations but China rejects this border as it is a colonial border line imposed by the British India.

China offered India at the time of Nehru in 1960 that it would recognize McMahon Line if India accept the Chinese control of Aksai Chin but India rejected the offer.

Another offer was later given at the time of Indira Gandhi in 1982 to recognize the McMahon Line in exchange for India accepting the Chinese claims in Ladakh.

This kind of multiple offers given by China and rejection by India has caused border disputes from 1962 till today. However, in 1985, China specified that it wanted Tawang as a means of settling the border dispute.

What are the counter measures being adopted by India?

India has taken several steps to counter the Chinese troops at the border.

For example, the Sela Pass tunnel project is being developed by the Border Road Organisation. It will provide all-weather connectivity between Tezpur in Assam and Tawang.

A 1,500-km Frontier Highway project is also coming up. It will run from Tawang in the west to Vijaynagar in east Arunachal along the state’s frontier with China.

The infrastructure expansion in Arunachal Pradesh is taking place along five verticals: habitat, aviation, road infrastructure, operational logistics and security infrastructure.

Surveillance has also increased with deployment of ground-based cameras with night vision ability, surveillance drones, long distance surveillance UAVs, and better communication systems.

What is the way ahead?

Tawang is a major Buddhist pilgrimage centre. The Buddhist monastery in Tawang is India’s biggest monastery.

It is also one of 33 assembly segments in the West Arunachal Pradesh parliamentary constituency which has been represented in every Indian parliament since 1950.

Therefore, India should try to resolve the border disputes with talks, negotiations and dialogues. However, it also needs to be prepared for any kind of emergencies.

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