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Abrogation of Article 370 and India-China Standoff in Ladakh

Honey Raj

Almost a year after the historic declaration of the abrogation of Article 370 China is gearing up to expedite its claim over the Indian territory.

With the whole world grappling and fighting with the global pandemic COVID 19, the last thing any country would have wanted, a standoff between the two nuclear-powers i.e. India and China. The fate of the existence of humanity is at stake, our economy has collapsed, and at this juncture does any country want to expand its territory beyond its capacity? Does geographical expansion is more valuable than human sufferings? This is what China seems to be doing at present. Since the time immemorial India and China have been at crossroads due to border disputes. In a recent attempt to destabilize LAC the Chinese army is learned to have been deploying and gradually enhancing infrastructure projects in the Galwan valley which includes a proportion of Ladakh region. More than 5,000 Chinese armies have entered 3-4 km in the Indian territory. Huge military build-up is being set up on either side of the border and signaling a 1962 war-like situation. The Indian army has also been moving in additional troops as well as equipment’s and other artillery guns to match up Chinese build up. So, the question arises why China is provoking India, and what could be China’s motive or intentions behind triggering or intensifying the present stand offs?

China’s recent moves can largely be attributed to the abrogation of Article 370 (except for clause 1) and 35A. On 5th August 2019, the Home Minister Amit Shah announced the retraction of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian constitution thus removing the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir. It also declared Ladakh as a Union Territory. This decision had a mixed bag of reactions from the International media and among those Chinese media and their diplomats were the most vocal. China expressed serious concerns over the situation in Kashmir and opposed India’s move to create a separate Union territory of Ladakh. In yet another statement Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying objected to the formation of Ladakh as union territory asserting its claim over the territory. “China always opposes India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in the western section of the China-India boundary under its administrative jurisdiction,” she said. “This position is firm and consistent and has never changed. The recent unilateral revision of domestic laws by the Indian side continues to Undermine China’s territorial sovereignty, which is unacceptable and will not have any effects,” she further added. (India Today, 6th August 2019). India never followed interventionist policy and thus respects territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries as well. In return it also wants China and Pakistan to reciprocate in the same manner.

India considers LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only 2,000 km long. This LAC is divided into three different sectors: the eastern sector in the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in the Uttarakhand region, and the Western sector in the Ladakh region. This western sector is the major bone of contention for the recent military standoff between India and China. Since the formation of Ladakh as Union territory India has started a Durbul- Shyok- Daulet Beg Oldi (DSBDBO) road construction project north of Pangong Tso. The construction of the road was well within the Indian territory and far from the Chinese claim. The construction of roads and various infrastructure in the Ladakh region brings the two nations to the proximity of each other. While on the other hand, the Chinese army has carried out most projects on its side including an airbase.

Almost a year after the historic declaration of the abrogation of Article 370 China is gearing up to expedite its claim over the Indian territory. What is most important is the timing of this escalation. India is among the 62-nations seeking probe into WHO’s COVID-19 response and the alleged role of China in spreading this deadly virus. India is also garnering support and praise from across the globe for its medical diplomacy which itself is problematic for China. On the other hand, China is worried about Pakistan as it faces the backlash and has been blacklisted by FATF (financial action task force). This also brings to the forefront of China’s quest for becoming a superpower in Asia. Any action that is taken by India which could harm Pakistan also affects China. In a way or the other China is unanimously taking provocative actions to counter India’s rising dominance in South Asia.

Ever since the abrogation of Article 370, China had tried to support its all-weather friend Pakistan on various international forums like UNSC and others. China being the permanent member asked for a closed-door consultation with UNSC on the Kashmir issue. This was also a move to notify the world leaders about India’s move in Kashmir. But this was a futile effort by Pakistan as it was snubbed by UNSC and it further refused to comment on an internal matter of India. China’s position on Kashmir has always remained ambiguous changing its position depending on its needs and greed. China’s policy historically has been inclined toward Pakistan and wants to make inroads in India through POK.

Recent moves by China to flare up border disputes amid COVID pandemic is to assert dominance on its neighbors. It is also trying to cover up its actions for the spread of this deadly virus. The bolstering of US-India relations has also alienated China. India under the leadership of Narendra Modi is not going to back down and it will leave no stone unturned in de-escalating the tension. The issue can further be resolved through political channels so that in future such types of escalations can be averted.

The author is a research scholar in Central University of Jharkhand and an intern at Academics4nation.



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