- The Galwan valley clash between India and China was a result of building tensions between the border forces.
- The move provoked a standoff and then a rapid build up.
- Heightened tensions between India and China, the Asian neighbors.
Under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, the State of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to exist and was converted into two main territories, 86 days after the Indian Parliament abrogated its special status under the Article 370.
Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesman described the reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as “void.” He highlighted that Ladakh contained Chinese territories and urged India to respect Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity. Indian ministry of external affairs responded to this and argued that Beijing was in illegal possession of parts of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
China has also illegally acquired Indian territories from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) under the so-called-China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963”, thus war of words raged even though India and hosted President Xi Jinping at the Mamallapuram informal summit during Octorber 11-12, 2019.
Indian and Chinese troops marked the first instance of violence at Galwan valley in Ladakh since the 1962 War. Galwan valley lies along the western sector of India-China border, the line of actual control (LAC) and close to Aksai Chin, an Indian territory under Beijing’s control. The 1960 Claim Line is considered as the de facto Line of Actual Control. Galwan valley is the only point that provides direct access to Aksai Chin from India.
China objected to the road construction and a bridge that India was building along the Galwan nallah. The bridge is a part of network of feeder roads that India is building connecting strategically important Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi road, inaugurated by Indian Defense Minister in Rajnath Singh in 2019. The bridge is 75 KM from the LAC, the Chinese have objected because they are suspicious of India’s aims on account of New Delhi’s claim over Aksai Chin.
India’s alignment with the U.S, the presence of Tibetan government-in-exile in India, and the aggressive claims on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit Baltistan – through which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes – only strengthens China’s suspicion.
Thousands of Chinese and Indian troops have been in a standoff in the Ladakh region, high in the Himalayas, since early May, 2020. After reaching an agreement to de-escalate on June 6, 2020, the mutual withdrawal of troops fro m the Galwan Valley went dramatically wrong on June 15, 2020; with the Indian Army officials reporting clashes that resulted in twenty deaths. China’s government and media have not provided casualty figures for Chinese troops, but unconfirmed Indian media reports indicated that more than forty died.
Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Gen Wei Fenghe in a meeting in Moscow that actions of Chinese troops, including ‘amassing of large number of troops, their aggressive behavior and attempts to “unilaterally alter the status quo” along the disputed boundary were in violation of the bilateral agreements”. In response Gen Wei in a statement was quoted saying,”India was ‘entirely’ responsible for the border tensions and China would not give up “an inch of its territory”. Gen Wei said,” The Chinese military has the resolve, capability and confidence to safeguard the national sovereignty and territorial integrity”. The meeting was sought by the Chinese side, it is the first between the Defense ministers since the stand-off began in early May, 2020.
Indian Army said,”Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” on August 31, 2020, while discussions between ground commanders were on-going. This followed earlier moves on the night of August 29, 2020, which were “provocative” military movements to change the status quo. To pre-empt these moves, the Army said, India undertook measure to “strengthen our positions” near the south bank of Pangong Lake in Ladakh. India said the latest tensions followed China’s similar moves along the border since early May, where it has sought to redraw the LAC in the Galwan valley.
Both Ministers of India and China agreed to resolve the ongoing situation and outstanding issues in the border areas peacefully through dialogue. Donald Trump, President of U.S weighed on the Ladakh standoff and said,”China and India are going at it pretty good on the border as you know. It has been a very nasty situation and we stand ready to help with respect to China and Inda”.