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The Sino-Indian conflict: Instability in South Asia

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Abbas Ali Bughio

The Sino-Indian boundary originated in 1834, with the conquest of Ladakh by the armies of Raja Gulab Singh under the suzerainty of the Sikh Empire. Gulab Singh and the Tibetans signed a Treaty in 1842 agreeing to stick to the old established frontiers later, the British defeated to Sikhs in 1846resulted in the transfer of the Jammu and Kashmir. China claims the Doklam area based on the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1890, negotiated between the British Empire in India and the Chinese royal mission. The territorial boundary between Sikkim and Tibet was delineated in the Article I of the treaty. By 1892, the British settled on the policy that their preferred boundary for Kashmir was the “Indus watershed”. Later, The British government proposed Macartney-MacDonald Line in 1899 with China. In 1960, China claimed that Bhutan, Sikkim and Ladakh were part of the great motherland of China. However, China’s construction of this road was one of the triggers ofthe Sino-Indian War between China and India that occurred in 1962 and more than 2,000 people were killed. Finally,China abandoned all attempts of peaceful resolution on 20 October 1962, invading disputed territory along the 3,225 kilometre- (2,000 mile) long Himalayan borders in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line. The war ended when China declared a ceasefire on 20 November 1962, and simultaneously announced its withdrawal to its claimed “Line of Actual Control”. Therefore, the aim of this policy was to create outposts behind advancing Chinese troops to interdict their supplies, forcing them north of the disputed line. Then, Indian government passed the “Defense of India Act in December 1962” permitting the apprehension and detention in custody of any person suspected of being of hostile origin. Later. Bhutan and China agreed on border negotiation with India’s participation in 1972. However, China sought the exclusion of India due to its effect on Bhutan. Having turned down China’s package deal, in 2000, Bhutanese government put forward its original claim line of 1989. The talks could make no progress afterwards. The government reported that, in 2004, China started building roads in the border areas, leading to repeated protests by the Bhutanese government based on the 1998 Peace and Tranquility Agreement. India took foreign policy and defense affairs of Bhutan after 1949 treaty. In 2007, that treaty was superseded by a “new friendship treaty” that made it mandatory on Bhutan to take India’s guidance on foreign policy but providing it broader sovereignty in other matters such as arms imports.

Unlike previous border incidents in 2013 or 2014 China is simultaneously putting pressure on the LAC in multiple areas in the western sector. Border conflicts between China and India escalated in 2017, when Indian troops and the PLA staged their most serious confrontation, over China’s construction of a road in Doklam near a Donglang Caochang in Chinese territory. However, India does not have a claim on Doklam but it supports Bhutan’s claim on the territory on which India’s highly strategic Siliguri corridor. In June 2017 China attempted to extend a road on the Doklam plateau southwards near the Doka La pass and Indian troops moved in to prevent the Chinese.On June 29, 2017, Bhutan protested the Chinese construction of a road in the disputed territory. On the same day, China released a map depicting Doklam as part of China by the 1890 Britain-China Treaty. China claimed on 5 July 2017 that there was a “basic consensus” between China and Bhutan that Doklam belonged to China. The Bhutanese government in August 2017 denied that it had relinquished its claim to Doklam. On 28 August 2017, it was announced that India and China had mutually agreed to a speedy disengagement on the Doklam plateau bringing an end to the military face-off that lasted for close to three months. In the past decade, India has worked hard to strengthen its position on the border and its presence along the LAC to complete “DS-DBO road” in 2019, this greatly facilitates the lateral movement of Indian forces along this part of the western sector, reducing travel time by 40 percent the goal of this road construction, is to help India’s efforts to dominate the Line of Actual Control. India expects to complete a network of feeder roads to the LAC By 2022.