China and India recently clashed in Galwan Valley, near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. To India’s shock, China has reportedly claimed the entire Galwan Valley, which even exceeds the Chinese territorial claims of 1962.
In a report by The Hindu, official records from the 1960s have exposed China’s expansionist ambitions and left the communist Chinese government red-faced. Currently, Chinese PLA troops are present on the north of Pangong Lake in Ladakh, an area that is beyond what China described as its official boundary during talks with India in 1960.
In fact, tents which China set up on the bend of river Galwan is also beyond Beijing’s territorial claims as well as the LAC is beyond China’s territorial claims, according to the 1960 records, writes the newspaper.
According to former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador to China, Nirupama Rao, the Chinese are now interpreting their perception of the LAC in a manner that seeks to redefine or maximize old claims along he new lines, as cartography and terrain knowledge have improved.
This offers them a tactical advantage and more ‘domination’ in key areas along the LAC and exposes China’s actual ambitions behind the border dispute with India. At the north bank of Pangong Tso, the PLA moved up to Finger 4 and prevented India from crossing Finger 4. The Fingers refer to mountain spurs on the bank, and run from 1 to 8, west to east.
China now claims up to Finger 4, while India says the LAC is at Finger 8. China previously built a road to Finger 4 in 1999 and has dominated up to Finger 4, but since May has, for the first time, completely cut off India’s access to its LAC at Finger 8, effectively shifting the line 8 km west.
MEA Report Exposes China
India-China border dispute has been a bone of contention between the two nations ever since they gained independence from their colonial masters. To prevent souring of ties, both New Delhi and Beijing agreed to conduct boundary negotiation meetings, the final outcome of which are contradicted by China today.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) report, three rounds of talks were held in the 1960s which included a total of 47 meetings.
At the conclusion of India-China talks, the Indian side asked: “What was the exact point where the alignment cuts the western half of Pangong Lake? And what was the exact point where it left the Pangong Lake?”
Beijing responded that the coordinates of the point where it reached the Pangong Lake were Longitude 78 degrees 49 minutes East, Latitude 33 degrees 44 minutes North, an area near Finger 8, around 8 km east of where China now says the LAC is and where it transgressed in May.
With regards to Galwan Valley, when India asked in 1960 for “heights of peaks and locations of passes” in the area, the Chinese side replied that the alignment “crossed the Galwan river at Longitude 78 degrees 13 minutes East, Latitude 34 degrees 46 minutes North, which is beyond current Chinese positions.
In the Galwan Valley, the 1960 line ran east of the bend of the Galwan river, called the Y-nallah, which was the site of the clash, which resulted in the death of troops on both sides for the first time since 1967.
The India newspaper says that the MEA report has clearly exposed China’s expansionist ambitions and goes on to prove that China is ready to twist its own words in a bid to increase its territory.
While disengagement talks are underway, the troops of both countries continue to remain on high alert. Experts predict that tensions will not thaw until the onset of winter when the areas of contention become totally inhospitable.