Behind the story of recent conflict between India and China

Tensions have soared again over the Line of Actual Control (LAC). India-China faces off again. It would be unfair to say only in a face-to-face position, there have been incidents of clashes and stone-throwing between the armies of the two countries. On 28 May, India also announced the deployment of additional troops in the area. Tensions between the two countries have already spread in this region of North Sikkim. But no settlement was reached. It appears that this time it will not be an exception too like previously.

The beginning of the recent conflict
The last time this dispute started was on 5-6th May. The spotlight was in eastern Ladakh, this area on the north bank of Pangong Lake is called Finger-Five. It was one of the most crucial battlefields in the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

Behind the story of recent conflict between India and China
The issue of authority in the region is still a matter of debate. This area is governed by a number of compromised protocols. The difficulty is, whenever a country increases its presence in the region. This has happened again. But not only one side, but both sides were responsible for the job.

On May 5, China thwarted India from building a road at LAC's Galway in Ladakh. At the same time, the Indian patrol team was interrupted at Pangong Lake. Four days later, on May 9, the two armies came face to face at Naku-la on the Sikkim-Tibetan border. In both sectors, the armies of the two countries got involved in clashes. Stones are also thrown. India alleges Chinese troops have infiltrated into India's borders. And China alleges that India's behaviour is provocative.

The news agency Reuters reported that both sides had set up tents on both sides of the LAC. The number of tents in China is 80-100, while in India it is about 80. According to Indian media, at least 10,000 Chinese troops are stationed in the claimed areas of Pangong Lake, Galway Valley, Demchuk in Ladakh and Nathu La in Sikkim.

For 10 years, India has built various infrastructure in its border areas, from roads to airports. Again, China's activities are increasing around the border of this Himalayan region. Al Jazeera reports that China definitely wants to keep India busy in the region. Because he doesn't want India to spend too much time on Tibet. However, India has yet to find any specific reason for China's current activities in Nathu La, Pangong Lake and Galway in Sikkim.

Behind the story of recent conflict between India and China

Meanwhile, the Global Times report has certainly pointed the finger of blame at India. They say the construction of various Indian installations around the border has created the current situation. It asserted India had illegally set up defence installations on the Chinese side of the border. As a result, Chinese border guards have no choice but to challenge them.

The term 'risk' has multiple and subtle uses in bilateral relations such as India-China or India-Pakistan. Whatever it is, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian says Chinese border guards are pacifists about the recent tensions. They work to conserve peace and stability at the border. Both China and India are trying to use the means of communication they have to resolve tensions. Similar statements have been made by the Indian Army.

An agreement was signed between India and China to resolve such tensions. According to the 1993 agreement, talks between the two countries should be given utmost importance to maintain peace and stability along the Indo-China border. In the agreement, they promised that the two countries would prefer the path of peace talks in case of any dispute over the border.

It also paved the way for the Siliguri Corridor known as the 'Chicken Neck'. This chicken neck connects the rest of India with the seven northeastern states. As a result, it is very important for India. The funny thing is the place where the two countries face each other is none of their business. That place is basically of Bhutan. But the main claimant in this dispute is nothing more than the situation in Bhutan.

What is the reason for this tug of war with the border?
Tensions over this part of the Sino-Indian border are not new. Tibet's desire to secede from China and India's support for it- all this incident is now history. The biggest crisis came in 1959 when India sheltered the Dalai Lama, a Tibetan spiritual leader whom China contemplated to be the leader of the separatist movement. The main crisis is Aksai Chin on one side and Arunachal on the other. China claims India's Arunachal Pradesh. And India claims Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin. China is not willing to leave Aksai Chin in any way.

Behind the story of recent conflict between India and China

It is desperately needed by China, for direct contact with Tibet. This is the crisis in the western part.

There is a similar crisis in the eastern part also. And that is about Arunachal itself. China has at one time claimed a part of its border as its own. As a result, it is a huge headache for India. Even during the 1962 war, the two countries could not resolve the dispute on their own. The provocative situation had been prevailing for two consecutive days since then.

In the 1980s, the then Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi met with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. No major tensions have arisen since then. The last 63-day confrontation in 2016 did not go to war, mainly because of the 1993 agreement.

China wants to build a military base in Djibouti. At the same time, the country is increasing its presence in the Indian Ocean. Nepal and Bhutan are groaning in pain between the two countries. Meanwhile, China is expanding its relations with Pakistan as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. In this context, a study by the Center for Joint War Studies, a research institute under the Indian Defense Forces, said that with the increase in China's activities on the Indo-China border, peace and stability in the region will be under constant pressure.

Incidents like Doklam will, therefore, appear as a new normal for the region.

After the Doklam tensions in 2016, a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping took place in Wuhan in 2016. There, both countries respect each other's position. At the same time, both sides reaffirmed their support for the 1993 bilateral agreement. But the current situation in Sikkim and East Ladakh says that the talks were mainly on paper.

In addition, the construction of the road to Tibet's Torsa Canal, a few kilometres east of Tibet, despite previous suspensions, is evidence of China's willingness to implement a strategy around Tibet.

What is the condition of two countries the border?
Although the two countries have largely settled their border disputes with all their neighbours, they are still at loggerheads with each other. In the 1980s, China settled border disputes with Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Similarly, India has worked with Nepal and Bhutan to settle at least such disputes. India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over Jammu and Kashmir since birth. This crisis has not been resolved yet. India has recently taken a final stand by imposing central rule in Kashmir, which has been widely criticized internationally. Apart from this, Bangladesh's border dispute with India in 2015 has also been resolved. The only major crisis still remains the Indo-China border, which analysts describe as a "deliberate crisis".

The reason for the Sino-Indian conflict is still alive
The ongoing power struggle between the two countries is a major obstacle in this regard. Both countries are keen to find a solution at a later date by holding talks with the other side. In other words, at the root of keeping the crisis alive is the distant equation of gaining the power to pull the negotiating table in one's favour.

In short, India is waiting for a situation in which all its powers will be on par with China's.

That was the position of China for so long. Now the situation has changed in these two countries. China is now moving forward with the intention of world governance. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has unveiled a new policy. In the last Congress of the ruling Communist Party of the country, he has garnered the support of all for his path. China is now looking at expansion. In order to fully appear on the stage of world governance, China has no choice but to be the best in its own region.

Behind the story of recent conflict between India and China

And India? India wants to consolidate its position as a regional power. Its power gap with China has widened over the past few decades. But China is now far ahead of India in terms of power. According to The Economist, China's military spending is currently more than three times that of India. In India, meanwhile, a hardline nationalist leader and his party are in power. His only hope is to cover all the failures that have been and will be in running the country.

As a result, it is difficult for both sides to comply with the existing LAC in their respective areas.

China's target is India's Achilles heel, Chicken neck. And India's goal is to protect this Chicken neck even if it can't expand at any cost. Kashmir is another such Achilles heel in India. China also has a weak point in this regard, and that is mainly Tibet. Taiwan or Hong Kong could also be mentioned in this case. But they are not directly related to India. International politics has come a long way with the two regions. The current uprising in Hong Kong and what is happening in the international arena is a matter for discussion elsewhere.

Is it a staged drama?

Adam Ni, director of the China Policy Center, a Canberra-based organization in Australia, told Al Jazeera that the current provocative situation could even escalate. Both countries are plagued by various internal crises. As a result, both are interested in maintaining peace
Beijing currently confronts many challenges. Notable among these are the post-Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Corona economic recovery. There are issues to normalize relations with the United States. As a result, there is no reason for Beijing to get involved in another war.

Behind the story of recent conflict between India and China

Since 1990, the two countries have focused on increasing trade relations with each other. This has benefited both parties. At present, the trade volume between the two countries is more than 92 billion dollars. However, India is still in a trade deficit. And this is the cause of great uneasiness in India. It was out of this uneasiness that last month the Narendra Modi government of India imposed restrictions on Chinese investment control, which China described as 'discriminatory'. In addition, China does not take it positively that, India's defence cooperation with the United States, Australia and Japan as growing. Meanwhile, Nepal is dissatisfied with India's expansionist attitude. And India has always been apprehensive about China's relationship with Pakistan. Analysts think that all this is working together now.

However, a number of Indian intellectuals believe that the Narendra Modi government is in dire need of such border tensions at the moment to cover up various failures, including the coronavirus. In the same way, China wants to achieve its goal by exploiting such an epidemic situation. In Hong Kong, in particular, the security legislation that Beijing has finally passed would not have been possible without such a situation. And this raises the question of whether such tensions on the border is a staged drama by both sides.

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