China-India border: Why tensions are rising between the neighbours

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Officials quoted by the Indian media say thousands of Chinese troops have forced their way into the Galwan valley in Ladakh, in the disputed Kashmir region.

China-India border: Why tensions are rising between the neighbours

Indian leaders and military strategists have clearly been left stunned.

The reports say that in early May, Chinese forces put up tents, dug trenches and moved heavy equipment several kilometres inside what had been regarded by India as its territory.

The move came after India built a road several hundred kilometres long connecting to a high-altitude forward air base which it reactivated in 2008.

The message from China appears clear to observers in Delhi – this is not a routine incursion.

“The situation is serious. The Chinese have come into territory which they themselves accepted as part of India. It has completely changed the status quo,” says Ajai Shukla, an Indian military expert who served as a colonel in the army.

China takes a different view, saying it’s India which has changed facts on the ground.

India and China share a border more than 3,440km (2,100 miles) long and have overlapping territorial claims. Their border patrols often bump into each other, resulting in occasional scuffles but both sides insist no bullet has been fired in four decades.

Their armies – two of the world’s largest – come face to face at many points. The poorly demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) separates the two sides. Rivers, lakes and snowcaps mean the line separating soldiers can shift and they often come close to confrontation.

The current military tension is not limited to Ladakh.

Soldiers from the two sides are also eyeball-to-eyeball in Naku La, on the border between China and the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim. Earlier this month they reportedly came to blows.

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And there’s a row over a new map put out by Nepal, too, which accuses India of encroaching on its territory by building a road connecting with China.

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Source : SCMP | Photocredit : Google

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