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Historical Background of Indo-China Border Dispute

Historical Background of India China Border Dispute

Between Jammu and Kashmir and Xinjiang Province of China, the two countries share about 2152 km long border over the western sector. And here lies the territory of Aksai Chin, which has remained an area of dispute between the two countries. Both countries went to war in 1962 over disputed territory of Aksai Chin. India claims it as part of Kashmir, while China claims it is part of Xinjiang.

The dispute over Aksai Chin can be traced back to the failure of the British Empire to clearly demarcate a legal border between China and its Indian colony. During the time of British rule in India, two borders between India and China were proposed Johnson’s Line and McDonald Line.

The Johnson’s line (proposed in 1865) shows Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir i.e. under India’s control whereas McDonald Line (proposed in 1893) places it under China’s control. India considers Johnson Line as correct, rightful national border with China, while on the other hand, China considers the McDonald Line as the correct border with India.

At present, Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the line separating Indian areas of Jammu and Kashmir from Aksai Chin. It is concurrent with the Chinese Aksai Chin claim line.

In Eastern sector, India shares 1,140 km long boundary with China. It runs from the eastern limit of Bhutan to a point near the Talu Pass at the trijunction of Tibet, India and Myanmar. This boundary line is called McMahon Line. The boundary was established along the Himalayan crest of the northern watershed of the Brahmaputra, except where the Kemang, Subansiri, Dihang and Lohit rivers break through that watershed. China considers the McMahon Line illegal and unacceptable claiming that Tibetans representatives who had sign the 1914 Convention held in Shimla which delineated the Mc Mahon line on the map were not having rights to do so.
The convention opening session was held on October 13, 1913 at Dharbhanga Palace house with Lama Lonchen laying his claims on the table, stressing recent Chinese excesses and asserting Tibet’s independence.

Ivan Chen counterclaimed China’s sovereignty over Tibet with the right to station a resident (Amban) in Lhasa garrisoned with 2600 men.
In November 1913, McMohan made a 1906 map Tibet and the Surrounding Regions  published by Royal Geographic Society as the basis of the ongoing discussion.

Snow disrupted the discussions and the conference was adjourned on December 24, 1913. Lonchen Shatra went on a pilgrimage to a Buddhist shrine and Ivan Chen made a motor car tour of Agra and other cities.

With the conference re-convening on January 12, 1914 McMohan on February 17, 1914 McMohan presented a map supporting a buffer state idea by the two-zone proposal as a solution of the political issue by the recognition of autonomy for Outer Tibet, whilst reserving to China the right to re-establish such a measure of control in Inner Tibet as would restore and safeguard her historic position, without in any way infringing the integrity of Tibet as geographical and political entity. 

While Ivan Chen and Lonchen Shatra argued the pros and cons of McMohan proposals into spring and summer, Chinese and Tibetan troops fought one another on the eastern-Tibet border.

Not being able to settle the vexed border and frustration creeping in on July 3, 1914 Chen informed the conference that Peking’s very explicit instructions enjoined him not to sign the Tripartite Convention.

Lonchen then reported his instructions. Lhasa had said that as he had accepted the Convention, he should sign it.

Various measures have been taken to maintain the status quo over the border including the famous Panchasheel Treaty between teh two countries in 1954, but the war of 1962 led a big blow to the relations betweeen the two countries and resulted in the Line of Actual Control which had marked a skirmishes on the border in 2013 as well as in 2017.

Recently, a source-based report in The Hindu claimed that the situation has been worsening over the border since late April, where the two sides clashed at Pangong Tso and at Naku La in early May. But, Indian government instead of giving ears to the grave concern was busy in thumbing its beat by just uninstalling few Chinese apps.

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