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India & China: Why are the precursors on the brink of war?

Two nuclear-armed countries, two world’s largest armies India & China, are standing against each other. How did both the countries end up in the warlike situation? Are the two rivals going to battle during a time like this; when the world is facing this unprecedented pandemic?

The reason behind the raging dispute between Asia’s two major military powers is China’s intervention into India’s border by 5 Km. But first of all how and when did this all start?

India & China’s relationships

The two superpowers have always been trivial, and the main reason behind the disputes is the unbounded border of the two nations.

The modern boundary of India & china was officially drawn in the 1940s by the British colonists. But the inhospitable stretches of the Himalayan range make the thorny border interactable for both the army’s regular patrolling.

In 1962 both the countries fought a war over the boundary between Ladakh and Aksai China; Chinese troops captured the area then. In the battle, India was dreadfully defeated. 1,300 Indian soldiers were killed, but the border did a tiny shift in the ‘Line of Actual Control’.

In 2017 a similar warlike condition arose between the two nations. Back then, the Indian army moved into the country Bhutan; which is sandwiched between the two China and India; For ceasing the construction of a road by China. Indian thought that the road will alter India’s administrative border.

Feathered tensions kept on popping up, but since 1975, no soldier from any of the sides was killed; Since the two nations always try to defend against escalations.

What is the case now?

The tension on the border of the country has escalated. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has moved inside the Galway valley and Pangong Tso, areas 1400 feet above the sea level; the region that is in India’s administration. According to data from the Indian government, China has steppes 5 km under India’s Boundary.

In response, the Indian government has moved battalions from an infantry division; which in usual times is based in Ladakh. Now, this battalion is in the ‘operational alert area’. The Indian army is keenly observing the situation says  Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane said on Wednesday.

Between May 5-8 there have been two skirmishes between both armies. In this, about 100 soldiers from both sides faced minor injuries. A few days back one more fight erupted between the two armies, 1200 km east along the Line of Actual Control (LAC); at Nathu La Pass, Sikkim. But Skirmishes on the Sino-India border are nothing new.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson on 26 May said; that China is committed to keeping its territory safe; alongside it is also trying to maintain peace at the Sino-India border. Although both the countries still accuse each other of trespassing.

The reason behind India & China’s clash

Indias’s Ministry of External Affairs blames Chinese soldiers for often obstructing Indian patrolling along the Line of Actual Control.

Ayushman Kaul, a South Asian research assistant at the Atlantic Council says; This time the military incursion may be because India constructs a bridge contiguous to the LAC in Ladhak. He thinks it may be a kind of payoff of what India did in Doklam, 2017. Over the past 10 years, India has boosted the construction of roads, bridges, and airbases, especially in borders near remote Himalayan range

A few analysts around the world believe this to be China’s strategy to let itself off the hook from its hand in the coronavirus pandemic. It might have planned all this to divert the world’s attention.

Kerry Brown, director of the Lau china Institution at Kings College London said; Since the land, both counties are fighting for is an arid region, it is more than the disputed region. The heart of the clash between the two countries was never any road or bridge. The constant clashes and unresolved tension are the feels of a massive role in the Asian continent by both countries.

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The steaming cold war

On both sides of the Sino-India border, both armies have tightened their belts. On the borders army tents are established; 80-100 on China’s side and about 60 on India’s border.

Indian military reported that about 10,000 PLA troops are camping in what India claims to be its territory. On 22 May, Indian army chief general Manoj Nirvana went to the disputed area for checking the ground status of the situation.

Skirmishes around the 3,488 km frontier of the Sino-India border are not something new. But despite the border disputes most of the time the condition on the border has been calm.

Ajay Shukla, a defense analyst believes that any further escalation could result in ‘all-out combat’. As fully equipped Chinese trucks are moved into the disputed area, such conditions usually arise during wars.

Beijing Global time newspaper reads that the latest border condition at the India-China border was a planned move by New Delhi.

Offering the olive branch

US President Donald Trump tweeted that the US is ready to “mediate or arbitrate” the India-China border dispute.

Both Countries play a very vital role in the world’s economy. War always has disastrous consequences. But especially at this time when the entire world is going through a hard time because of the pandemic, it is, without a second thought not a good time for war.

Neither India nor China would be willing to indulge themselves in a war during this health emergency. Especially China which is already in a war of words with the US over coronavirus’ origin. The best way out would be, as said by China’s ambassador to India Sun Weidong; “As neighbors, friends, and partners, China and India, should shake hands strengthen cooperation, and fight against the epidemic together.”