Topic in News

Title: India China Border Talks explained – China claims all of Galwan Valley

Why in the news?

Rekindling tensions over boundary claims, Indian and Chinese troops have clashed at two points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) recently, leaving personnel injured on both sides.

Where have the incidents (army clashes) happened?

  • The Pangong lake in Ladakh
  • Naku La in Sikkim
  • Galwan valley and Demchok in Ladakh

What is LAC?

  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the disputed boundary between India and China.
  • The LAC is divided into three sectors: western, middle and eastern.
  • The countries disagree on the exact location of the LAC in various areas, India claims that the LAC is 3,488 km long, China believes it to be around 2,000 km long.
  • The two armies try to dominate by patrol to the areas up to their respective perceptions of the LAC. This often brings them into conflict.
  • The LAC mostly passes on the land, but Pangong Tso is a unique case where the LAC passes through the water as well.

Border disputes between India and China:

  • The India-China borders can be broken down into three sectors
  • Western Sector – DISPUTED – This comprises the Aksai Chin sector. This region which originally was a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is claimed by China as part of its autonomous Xinjiang region. After the 1962 war, it was administered by China. It is the second largest Indo-China border area covering over 38000 sq. km. However, it is an uninhabited land. While India claims the entire Aksai Chin territory as well as the Shaksgam valley (Indian territory gifted to China by Pakistan), China contests Indian control over Daulat Beg Oldi (a tehsil in Leh, south of Aksai China-it is believed to host the world’s highest airstrip)

  • Central Sector – UNDISPUTED – Although China has recognised India’s sovereignty over Sikkim and had initiated the trade at Nathu La pass, the Doklam fiasco could mean trouble at all ends.
  • Eastern Sector – DISPUTED – The Arunachal Pradesh border that China still claims to be its own territory is the largest disputed area, covering around 90000 sq. km. It was formally called North East Frontier Agency. During the 1962 war, the People’s Liberation Army occupied it but they announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew respecting the international boundary (Mcmahon Line). However, it has continued to assert its claim over the territory. Nowadays, almost the whole of Arunachal is claimed by China.

Why do face-offs occur?

  • Non-Demarcation of LAC: LAC that has never been demarcated. As a result, India and China have overlapping claim lines along LAC which leads to such clashes
  • Non-implementation of protocols: Additionally, the Protocols agreed to in 2005 and 2013 regarding rules of engagement to prevent such incidents, have not always been adhered to.
  • The incidents took place in the NakuLa sector and in a contested area near Pangong Tso, a lake in Ladakh.
  • But the Army played down the two incidents as “temporary and short-duration face-offs” that were resolved by “local commanders as per mutually-accepted protocols” through dialogue and flag meetings. These kinds of incidents do occur as boundaries are not resolved.

What is behind the latest tensions?

  • The northern bank of Pangong lake has always been a point of contention where there are differing perceptions of the LAC.
  • The stand-off in Galwan valley(not many incidents in past as LAC was thought to be settled here) was triggered by China moving in troops & equipment to stop construction activity by India
  • Delhi says that construction was well within India’s side of the LAC, but China thinks otherwise.
  • The broader context for the unexpected tensions in Sikkim appears to be a changing dynamic along the LAC, as India plays catch-up in improving infrastructure there.
  • China has enjoyed an advantage in infrastructure as well as terrain that is more favorable to mobilization in the Sikkim area and likes to maintain status-quo.

Why has not the LAC been clarified?

  • India has long proposed an exercise to clarify differing perceptions of the LAC to prevent such incidents.
  • The exercise could pave the way to regulate activities in contested areas until a final settlement of the boundary dispute.
  • Maps were exchanged in the Middle Sector, but the exercise fell through in the Western Sector where divergence is the greatest.
  • China has since rejected this exercise, viewing it as adding another complication to the on-going boundary negotiations.

What are the “Fingers” in the lake?

  • The barren mountains on the lake’s northern bank, called the Chang Chenmo, jut forward in major spurs, which the Army calls “fingers”.
  • Claims – India claims that the LAC is coterminous with Finger 8, but it physically controls area only up to Finger 4.
  • Chinese border posts are at Finger 8, while it believes that the LAC passes through Finger 2.
  • Six years ago, the Chinese had attempted a permanent construction at Finger 4, which was demolished after Indians strongly objected to it.
  • Chinese use light vehicles on the road to patrol up to Finger 2, which has a turning point for their vehicles.
  • If they are stopped by an Indian patrol in between, asking them to return, it leads to confusion, as the vehicles can’t turn back.
  • Recent tensions – The Indian side patrols on foot, and before the recent tensions, could go up to Finger 8.
  • Fracas between Indian and Chinese soldiers happened at Finger 5, which led to “disengagement” between the two sides.
  • The Chinese have now stopped the Indian soldiers moving beyond Finger 2. This is an eyeball-to-eyeball situation which is still developing.

What is the state of boundary negotiations?

  • In 2005, an agreement on political parameters and guiding principles completed the first of three stages of the talks.
  • The 2005 agreement said both sides “shall safeguard the interests of their settled populations in border areas”.
  • The current, and most difficult, stage involves agreeing a framework to resolve the dispute in all sectors.
  • The final step will involve delineating and demarcating the boundary in maps and on the ground.

What are the prospects of a settlement?

  • The likelihood appears remote.
  • The main differences are in the Western and Eastern sectors.
  • India sees China as occupying 38,000 sq km in Aksai Chin. In the east, China claims as much as 90,000 sq km, extending all across Arunachal Pradesh.
  • One particular sticking point appears to involve China’s claims to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which has been increasingly raised by China in recent years
  • A swap was hinted at by China in 1960 and in the early 1980s, which would have essentially formalised the status quo.
  • Both sides have now ruled out the status quo as a settlement, agreeing to meaningful and mutual adjustments.
  • At the same time, the most realistic solution will involve only minor adjustments along the LAC, considering neither side will be willing to part with territory already held.

What is the Strategic Calculation behind boundary dispute?

  • India insists that its relations with China won’t improve fundamentally until the border dispute is resolved
  • China appears to view an unsettled border as holding some leverage with India, one of the many pressure points it could use to keep India off-guard


Both the countries should come together to resolve the dispute as it may affect many economic ties between both the countries, both the countries is one of the leading economic and play very important role In global economic, India-China should look forward to resolve border dispute for peace on the border and both the side of the nation