A Diplomatic Minefield: How India can navigate the Chinese Border dispute

Ishika Sheth

Adi Raghavan

For the first time in the last 45 years, India and China have indulged with one another across the border. The rising tension at the India-China Border could be one of the first signs of an impending war.  The clash sprouted because China wants to claim a piece of Indian land, based on a loosely demarcated border, which was marked decades ago. China's calamitous claims provide the sense of foreboding that an imposter lies among us.


On May 5th, around 250 military troops belonging to the two superpowers engaged in a violent face-off at Pangong Tso Lake, Ladakh area. Discussions commenced later that day, lasting for over 48 hours.  The Generals concluded that the two sides would disengage and shrink back. As the Chinese withdrew their forces, they moved further up on the shared border with the Indian state of Sikkim. The Chinese moved up the border inconspicuously, seeming like a routine training exercise on the surface. In fact, they had a set up on the hill to assess the position of each soldier.



On the morning of June 15th, Chinese army troops were set up near an Indian post near the LAC (Line of Actual Control). The Indian and Chinese army generals agreed to a de-escalation movement. However, there was a movement by the border again. Chinese troops that had previously withdrawn from the border returned with more personnel and strength, setting up base and tents. To investigate the movement a troop of 20 soldiers approached the LAC, where they were attacked by the Chinese Army, with sticks wrapped with barbed wires and nails.


Indian reinforcements came in minutes after this incident, indulging in hand to hand combat. The fight at the border resulted in the death of Chinese soldiers and forcing them to surrender their position and return the land to the Indian soldiers. 

The attack was condemned and frowned upon by the world. The action was inhumane and cowardly. The bodies of the martyred soldiers were found in the Shyok river frozen and beaten to death. The Chinese government hasn't released any numbers about any harm or casualty on their side, but the Indian Army reported around 40 losses. The fact that the Chinese Army came prepared with such barbaric weapons shows that they do not fear any action that would be taken against them. After this incident, on a global level, Prime Ministers and Presidents put out tweets condemning the incident, but no concrete action was taken. This ignorance boosts the confidence of the Chinese. 


The actual purpose of this brutal attack, in my opinion, was to attempt to change the status quo. The intrusion of the Galwan Valley was a tactical move, made to halt ongoing infrastructure development on the Indian side, so in the future when they had to attack India, they had open and easy access to exploit vulnerabilities. The attack being unsuccessful might have affected their timeline to take over the post.


On September 8th the Chinese Army decided to attack, firing shots across the border for the first time in 45 years. The firing across the border was evidence that the Chinese will take aggressive and strong measures to take over the land. The Indian government has taken specific preventative actions which made the global news. Firstly, the ban of Tik-Tok. Tik -Tok was transmitting the information of its users without their permission. It could access information like the location and pictures in android phones. This could have been a significant game-changer in a battle someday, as army officers would be revealing their positions to the soldiers across the border and handing them a strategic advantage. Further, the defense department has given the soldiers the rights to make drastic decisions and also armed it with more arms and ammunition than ever before.


Had the Galwan Valley attack been successful, the Chinese would have taken over Post 14 near the border and would have maintained the position over the Himalayan Winter.  During Winter, usually, both troops move back so that they would have had control in the interim. India would have to discuss this matter in the UN, which would take years to conclude, and by then, China would have already included the land in their country map. The Indian side, having assumed that China will try to make underhanded decisions and would double-cross any agreement that is made, has chosen not to move its soldiers back and guard the post throughout the Winter.


Over the years, India has been losing land continually in bits and pieces around the border to China; this has given the Chinese the leeway and audacity to keep taking shots at us. In 1962, we lost Aksai Chin. In 2006, China had the cojones to call Arunachal Pradesh a part of China; it was supposedly south Tibet.


Which leads one to ponder why haven't we done anything? Why hasn't there been a change in the policy regarding India and China? Time and again all that this country has done is betray and backstab India, why are we still quiet?


Since the current tensions and power play are being caused due to unclear, vague, and unspecified terms about a discussion between the nation's leaders. If one of the involved parties were to break the said agreement, severe trade penalties should be imposed. As China's biggest strength is its trade, it could be called the supplier to the world, and they should be wounded where it hurts. Countries importing goods from China could shift their demand to other countries or impose heavy import duty on Chinese goods, making the goods too expensive for the citizens of their country. China could retaliate with dumping the price of goods. However, if the countries set strict quotas for import, over time, it would reduce their global power. Further, those companies that have businesses there could be incentivized to move their production houses to other countries like Bangladesh, India and Nepal. This would affect China financially, making it difficult for them to fund their military and hinder their efforts in overpowering other countries.


China's attempted dominance stretches across the subcontinent, from their destruction of Philippine trawlers in the South China Sea to their imposition in Hong Kong. These countries, tormented by the encroachment of the Chinese, might be incentivized to request global support.  


China recognizes India as an emerging power and has tried many different ways to slow down its progress. China, in recent years, has started building infrastructure in Pakistan, aided its economic and military growth, seeing each other as a counterweight to the Indian western alliance. Even on a global level, when India wanted to declare Masood Azar as an international terrorist, China vetoed the decision. 


Masood Azar was later revealed to be Beijing's go-to man for geostrategic investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC was China's flagship project in Pakistan for the Belt and Road Initiative and happened to be a crowded terrorist landscape. Moreover, it also vetoed the request made by India to be a member of the security council, for several years, even though the other four nations had no objections. 


This year finally, India defeated China and earned a seat in the council. India recognizes the instigative actions that China has been making and should look for global support to curb the power of this two-faced nation. 


With a changing and more aware world population, the actions of China should not go unnoticed and with India gaining power at a world stage, India should have a better say and should be able to put forth the unabashed truth about their neighbors. 

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Illustrated by Teresa Paul