India-China Border Dispute: Explained

Image: Stars and Stripes

Tensions between India and China are a ubiquitous phenomenon at the 3,488 km unmarked border between the two Asian giants. The most recent were clashes near Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh and the Naku La region near Tibet.

Here are five components of the dispute

  • Soldiers from both sides came to blows and threw stones at each other mostly in efforts to induce the Indian troops to move back from the areas they were patrolling.
  • Militarized incidents have increased after a long period of relative quiet along the Sino-Indian border. According to the Indian government, the Chinese military crossed into Indian territory 1,025 times between 2016 and 2018. In 2017, Indian and Chinese troops locked horns for two months in Doklam
  • In the past border skirmishes were set aside for mending ties between the two nations. According to a Foreign Policy article in the 1980s, “Both China and India needed a stable external environment to promote domestic economic development.” The countries were on an equal footing at that time. But this time around the material balance of power between China and India has dramatically changed. China spent $261.1 billion on defense expenditure in 2019, almost four times India’s total of $71.1 billion.
  • China has become far more assertive from its artificial-island-building activities in the South China Sea to its muscular diplomacy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • China now wants to dominate Asia and sees New Delhi as the only impediment. It has resolved its border issue with its Russian counterpart and is trying to undermine US primacy. In this light, border skirmishes will continue, and “a more violent clash along the volatile, poorly demarcated Sino-Indian border is highly likely,” according to Sumit Ganguly.
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