Indo – China Standoff, no longer “Bhai, Bhai”


Since the 1962 Sino-India war, the border between India and China is disputed at numerous locations.

The Chinese variant of LAC mostly consists of claims in the Ladakh region and as well as Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast of India.

The 1962 war as a result of a Chinese disputed Himalayan border and India granting asylum to the Dalai Lama after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, gave rise to a succession of severe border clashes between the two countries 

Much of this fighting took place in harsh mountainous conditions involving large scale combat at an altitude of over 4,000 meters (14,000 feet).

The United States and Britain at the time declined to sell advanced weaponry to India, and hence India had to turn to the Soviet Union for procuring advanced weapons.

Soviet Union aided with the sale of advanced MIG fighter – aircraft to India.

The war was fought over one month and one day, the Chinese troops advanced over Indian forces in theatres, capturing REZANG LA in Chushul in the western theatre and, as well as Tawang in the eastern theatre.

The main cause of the war was a dispute over the autonomy of the widely separated AKSAI CHIN and Arunachal Pradesh border regions.

India claimed Aksai Chin belonged to Kashmir while China claimed it to be part of XINJIANG.

The region contains an important road link that connects the Chinese regions of Tibet and Xinjiang and the construction of this road was one of the flashpoints sparking conflict between the two nations.

Under the published figures, the Chinese had 80,000 troops and India had 22,000 troops involved in this conflict.

According to the Chinese sources – 722 of its troops were killed and 1697 were wounded.

The figures on the Indian side and according to the sources stands at 1383 killed, 1696 missing, 548 – 1047 wounded and 3968 soldiers captured.

The Chinese version of the Indian casualty on the other hand stands at 4987 killed or wounded and 3968 captured.

The war ended when China declared a ceasefire on 20 November 1962 and simultaneously announced its withdrawal to its claim of “Line of Actual Control”

The result of the war led to widespread changes in the Indian military, and a catalyst to prepare for similar conflicts in the future.

The important lesson learned by India in the war was the need to bolster its defenses.

The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru faced severe criticism while the then Defense Minister Menon resigned from his government post.

He intended to allow someone who might upgrade and modernize India’s military capability.

Hence, India’s policy of self -sufficiency, and weaponization via indigenous sources was paved.

In late 1967, there were military conflicts with China in two separate incidents and both countries exchanged fire in Sikkim.

The first confrontation was dubbed as the “Nathu La incident” and the other “Chola incident” in which the Chinese forward-moving troops were forced to withdraw from Sikkim, then the protectorate of India and later a state after annexation in 1975.

In 1987 Sino – India skirmish, both sides showed military restraint and it was a bloodless conflict.

Further in 2017 the two countries were once again involved in a military standoff, in which several troops were injured.

Cut to the year 2020, since 5th May both China and India have reported clashes.

Troops on both sides engaged in a scuffle at Sino – Indian border, including near the disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh and the Tibet Autonomous Region, near the border between Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region.

Additional skirmishes are also ongoing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)

The main reason for these skirmishes is China’s objection to India’s road construction project in the Galwan River valley.

According to Indian sources, hand to hand fight broke out between the two patrolling parties on 15/16 June 2020, resulting in the deaths of 20 Indian Soldiers (including a Col ranked Officer) and 43 Chinese soldiers (including an officer).

On both sides, according to the news sources, soldiers were captured and later released.

India bolstered the region with 12,000 additional road construction workers who are to aid India ‘s Border Roads Organization in completing the development of Indian Road construction along the Sino -Indian Border.

The Chinese on the other hand have also extensively developed their infrastructure in these disputed regions.

According to the experts, the fundamental reason for these skirmishes is China’s pre-emptive measures in response to the Darbuk – Shyok- Dbo Road infrastructure project in Ladakh.

Another reason is China’s continuous territory grabbing technique, also referred to as “salami slicing”, which involves encroaching portions of enemy territory over large periods.

India’s Economic Response

Following the Galwan Valley clash on 15th June 2020, India called for a boycott of Chinese manufactured products.

Sonam Wangchuk appealed to Indians to boycott Chinese products and to use “wallet power”.

This appeal was echoed by key media houses and supported by the Indian public.

In tune with the appeal of the Chinese goods boycott, The Indian Railways canceled its contract with a Chinese firm.

Simultaneously, the Department OF Telecommunications notified BSNL not to use Chinese manufactured products in its upgradations.

India is also making sure the Chinese do not have access to Strategic markets in India.

Mumbai canceled a monorail project with a Chinese company and in keeping with the ‘self -reliant’ call, the Chinese imports are undergoing additional and more scrutiny at Indian customs.

Besides, 59 Chinese apps including the extremely popular Tik Tok and WeChat have been banned.

International Response.

Largely the response from the world is towards de-escalation and a peaceful resolution between the two countries.

However, France became the first country to extend the support of its military to India.

Japanese Ambassador to India Satoshi Suzuki after a meeting with the Indian Foreign Secretary on 3rd July said that “Japan opposes any ‘unilateral attempt to change status quo’ on LAC.

The United States already has a disagreement with China on the COVID -19 pandemics and expressed concern.

Congressman Ted Yoho made a statement on 27 June saying that “China’s actions on India fall in line with a larger trend of the Communist Party of China using the confusion of the COVID -19 pandemic as a cover to launch large scale military provocations against its neighbors in the region including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam […] Now is the time for the world to come together and tell China that enough is Enough”

With India and China both affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as is the whole world, it would be prudent to allocate time and resources towards combatting the COVID -19 crises.

However, grabbing portions of land with devious tactics, provocation, and senseless killings of the soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces with barbed sticks is unpardonable.

Hence, if India’s peace, prosperity, and integrity are challenged then 

“The Lion” shall duly reciprocate.

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