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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/21/21

China and India digging in for permanent militarization of LAC

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The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory. India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km. It is divided into three sectors: the eastern sector, which spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the western sector in Ladakh. After the 1962 War, the Chinese claimed they had withdrawn to 20 km behind the LAC of November 1959.

According to Dr. Peter Harris, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Colorado State University and Editor of the Indo-Pacific Perspectives series, "India and China have never been able to agree upon a border to separate their two states. In the east, China claims much of what is now governed as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. In the west, India claims the territory of Aksai Chin, governed by Beijing as part of Xinjiang and Tibet. In between those two disputed territories runs a border (punctuated by the independent states of Nepal and Bhutan) that has never been demarcated."

Even the so-called Line of Actual Control that supposedly separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory is the subject of vigorous dispute. Both sides station troops along portions of the LAC and conduct regular patrols. They jockey for position by building infrastructure--camps, roads, lookout posts--and trying to occupy strategic points. But physical clashes are rare. Until last year, fatalities had not been recorded in decades, Dr. Harris adds.

Both China and India say they want to resolve their military stand-off in the Himalayas. But 19 months after the first showdown Beijing and New Delhi are digging in for what appears to be a permanent border confrontation, according to South China Morning News? This is the question analysts are asking amid a deadlock in military-level talks after the 13th round of talks in October ended in a bitter blame game.

Last Tuesday, Eric Garcetti, the incoming US ambassador to India, said that the South Asian nation was situated "in a tough neighborhood", without naming China. "I intend to double-down on our efforts to strengthen India's capacity to secure its borders and deter aggression through counterterrorism coordination," Garcetti told a US Senate panel during his confirmation hearing.

New Delhi has already indicated its belief that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is unlikely to vacate its deployment along the LAC any time soon.

Indian army chief General MM Naravane said in October that a "large-scale build-up" on the Chinese side and the infrastructure development that such a build-up needed, meant that "they [the PLA] are there to stay." "If they are here to stay, we are there to stay too," he added.

The PLA, on the other hand, has deployed an advanced long-range rocket launcher to the Himalayas and built underground shelters to protect troops and weapons.

Last month, the Global Times reported how the PLA had been ramping up its winter infrastructure and had "fundamentally solved" logistical issues by taking "advantage of a golden period for infrastructure creation" before the harsh weather set in.

The Indian government had raised concerns about growing Chinese presence and infrastructure-creation earlier this month, including the construction of multiple lateral roads towards the LAC that connect the Chinese national highway G219 as well as building roads close to the sites of some of the present conflict such as the Finger 8 in the Pangong Tso area in eastern Ladakh.

Ladakh is now a matter of sovereignty for China

Chinese and Indian military officials held 13th round of talks on October 10 to resolve the border issue but the talks failed.

According to Pravin Sawney, an Indian defense expert, the failure of talks was expected but what was not expected is a press release which was issued after the talks by the PLA's Western Theater Command which faces India. Two points were made: the first was that the PLA's says that now the border issue is about their sovereignty.

They have raised the level to the sovereignty so we have to recall what Chinese President Xi Jinping has been saying all along about sovereignty that there will be no compromise on that. Every inch of territory which has been bequeathed to China by the forefathers will be reclaimed.

So the PLA would want to reclaim South Tibet which is our state of Arunachal Pradesh, Sawney said, adding: "And after it the events of 5th August 2019 in Jammu & Kashmir, when they (Chinese) have been unhappy and Ladakh have been made into Union Territory. Event Ladakh is now an issue of sovereignty."

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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