The conflicts between India and China in Ladakh are centered around the Pangong Tso lake, Galwan valley and Demchok , making it a very important aspect of the border dispute between the two countries.
Why the conflict:
The disputed border between the two nations goes right through the middle of the lake, with both nations disputing how much of the lake the other gets.
- In the Ladakhi language, Pangong means extensive concavity, and Tso is lake in Tibetan.
- Pangong Tso is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked) lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
- As things stand, a 45 km-long western portion of the lake is in Indian control, while the rest is under China’s control.
- The disputed boundary between India and China, is known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- It is divided into three sectors: western, middle and eastern.
- The countries disagree on the exact location of the LAC in various areas.
- India claims that the LAC is 3,488 km long while the Chinese believe it to be around 2,000 km long.
|Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a line drawn through Kashmir. It is where the two powers stood when the ceasefire was announced and agreed by China and India following the Sino-Indian War.|
- The Johnson Line (1865) shows Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir, i.e. under the jurisdiction of India, while the McDonald Line (proposed in 1893) positions it in China.
- India considers Johnson Line to be the correct, legitimate national border with China, while China considers the McDonald Line to be the correct one.
- Middle sector:
- The states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have border with Tibet (China).There isn’t much conflict here.
Eastern sector – McMahon Line:
- The Mcmahon line is an agreed boundary between Tibet and India, signed by Britain and Tibet in Simla in 1914.
- It is from the eastern limit of Bhutan to a point near the Talu Pass at the trijunction of Tibet, India and Myanmar.
- China considers the McMahon Line to be unacceptable and illegal.
Tactical significance of the lake:
- It lies in the path of the Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory.
- If a major Chinese offensive comes, it will flow across both the north and south of the lake.( 1962 war).
- Connectivity in the region:
- Over the years, the Chinese have built motorable roads along their banks of the Pangong Tso.
- In 1999, when the Army unit from the area was moved to Kargil for Operation Vijay, China took the opportunity to build 5 km of road inside Indian Territory along the lake’s bank.
- From one of these roads, Chinese positions physically overlook Indian positions on the northern tip of the Pangong Tso lake.
Confrontation on the water:
- On the water, the Chinese had a major advantage until a few years ago — their superior boats could literally run circles around the Indian boats.
- But India purchased better Tampa boats some eight years ago, leading to a quicker and more aggressive response.
- The drill for the boats is agreed upon by the two sides, as per the Standard Operating Procedure.
- Proper security protocol should be followed along the border.
- Confidence building measures and border personnel meetings should be carried out regularly. .
- Hotlines of communication should be established and used effectively.
- Under the Wuhan Summit (2018) “strategic guidance” to the respective militaries to strengthen communications along the border was meant to be issued. This should be followed.
Source: ”Indian Express “.
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