It has been almost a month since Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed for the first on May 5-6 over the area around Pangong Lake. The border dispute around the lake goes back to 1962 when China invaded the Aksai Chin region, and the Line of Control was changed to Line of Actual Control.
The dispute is over an area that numbered 1 to 8 by the military. India lays its claim up to finger 8 cliff but China accepts its claim only till finger 8. So, basically the area between finger 5 to finger 8 cliff is disputed and armed forces of both countries patrol in the region.
The major reason behind the border dispute is that there is no clearly demarcated (barbed/wired) Line of Actual Control and the patrolling dependents on “perception” while both sides patrol the disputed region from time to time.
But, due to regular Chinese intrusion till finger 6, the Indian Army decided to build an observatory post around finger 8, construction of which Chinese troops stopped, and since then, the standoff is going on.
China has moved more than 6,000 soldiers in the area after the standoff, and India reciprocated with an equal number specialized high-altitude border forces. A psychological warfare is also going on as a video of Indian troops beating Chinese forces viral on Indian social media and Chinese troops beating Indian forces viral on their social media.
While the talks between both countries are going on, the American government has come out openly in support of India. After Trump was asked about India-China standoff on May 29, he said, “They have a big conflict …India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people (each). Two countries with very powerful militaries. India is not happy and probably China is not happy,” the president said when asked if he was worried about the border situation between India and China.
“I can tell you; I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He is not in a good mood about what is going on with China,” Trump added.
A week before Trump’s response over the issue, Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, slammed China’s “disturbing behavior”, and said, “This is a reminder that Chinese aggression is not always rhetorical and whether it’s in the South China Sea or whether it’s along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behaviour by China that raises questions about how China seeks to use its growing power.”
Today, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo criticized China’s expansionist behavior and said that, “We see even today increasing forces of China moved up to the north of India on the Line of Actual Control there on the Indian border. These are the kinds of actions that authoritarian regimes take and they have a real impact…” Pompeo told Marc Thiessen and Danielle Pletka of AEI’s ‘What The Hell Is Going On In The World’ podcast.
But, while the United States has used such strong words to criticize Chinese attempts of intrusion, the Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has not made a single statement critical of China, or its armed forces. All he has said is that both countries are trying to resolve the issue through talks and India is making efforts to ensure that tensions do not escalate. “It has been India’s efforts to ensure that the tension does not escalate. It should be resolved through talks at military and diplomatic levels. Negotiations are ongoing between the two countries at the military and diplomatic levels,” said Singh.
On the other hand, the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry said that they are committed to holding the country’s sovereignty. “China has been implementing the consensus between the two countries’ leaders. We have been committed to upholding our national sovereignty, security as well as stability along the border,” said the Chinese spokesperson.
India and China are mature nations and would solve the issue through talks, but Rajnath Singh, as defense minister, should boost the morale of the armed forces through critical statements against the Chinese expansionist strategy.