In the 1950s, Indians were obsessed with the slogan “Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai”. However, it did not last since the 1962 war between India and China broke out. During the war, all of Arunachal Pradesh (South Tibet) was occupied by the Chinese army and they came up to Tezpur in Assam. According to Bruce Reidel, “India was humiliated, Nehru was devastated. Driven Indian army from the east and even Calcutta was at risk.” The Chinese army, after routing the Indian army and teaching a lesson, voluntarily withdrew.

In this article, the focus is on Indian Illegally Occupied Ladakh. In 1865, Ladakh was surveyed by the British who marked Aksai Chin as part of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) and this line was never presented to or approved by the Chinese authorities. In 1899, the British drew a fresh demarcation of the border, namely Macartney-Macdonald Line, which put Aksai Chin in the Chinese territory. Aksai Chin, an area of 43000 square kilometres, has been under the Chinese administration since the 1962 humiliating defeat of India. On August 5 2019, India revoked the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir by abrogating articles 370 and 35A. This was followed by a new political map of Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOK) where all of Azad Kashmir was shown as a part of the newly created territory of Indian Occupied Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Aksai Chin in the union territory of occupied Ladakh.

After these developments, some unusual movements were observed in the northern sub-sector, Daulat Beg Oldi—located 8 miles south of the Karakoram Pass. The sector has a brigade group force and can also facilitate and provide an alternative route to the Siachen Glacier for logistic supplies. The construction of the road, Darbuk-Shyok Daulat Beg (255 kilometres), and other military developments were alarming to China since a clear threat to Aksai Chin and Tibet was posed. In a professional and brilliant move, the Chinese landed their troops in Galwan Valley, Nakula, Pangong area and in Demchok. Subsequently, on June 15, 2020 a bloody clash took place in Galwan Valley where 22 Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer, were killed without firing a bullet and ten soldiers, including three officers, were also taken captive. According to China, it was the result of a provocative attack launched by the Indian army in the valley. With the occupation of Galwan, control of the ridges at the junction of Galwan and Shyok is under the Chinese army which now dominates the newly constructed road to Daulat Beg Oldie. After consolidating gains, China has now strengthened its positions at Galwan valley, Hot Spring, Pangong Tso and Depsang plains.

China has also deployed its troops in an area known as ‘Y’ junction, or bottle neck, located 18 kilometres on the Indian occupation side of the LAC and 25 kilometers south-east of the strategic location of Daulat Beg Oldie. According to the newspaper, The Hindu, 1000 square kilometers worth of area in occupied Ladakh is now under Chinese control in the Galwan valley, Depsang plains, Hot Spring, Chushul and Pangong Tso. PLA has now encircled the Indian army from Daulat Beg Oldie to Demchok and, at the same time, has dominated the newly constructed strategic road which has now become redundant.

Indian military and political leadership never took the nation into confidence and deliberately denied information about the loss of ground to the Chinese army. On June 19, 2020 Prime Minister Modi said at the all-party meeting that nobody has intruded into Indian territory or occupied any post. Rahul Gandhi accused PM Modi of surrendering the Indian territory to China. Former minister P. Chidambaram raised the question, “if there was no intrusion or violations of the LAC, why was there so much talk about disengagement of troops on both sides?” Similarly, Rajnath Singh, the defence minister, said that no power in the world can touch even an inch of India’s land during his visit to Ladakh. Indian political and military leadership made desperate attempts to ease tension and begged for talks. Military level talks between the two countries were held initially at Major General levels in May and June followed by several rounds of Corps Commanders level talks but no headway was made. Recently on September 10, 2020, China and India had agreed to de-escalate their standoff in Ladakh after a meeting between the Chinese foreign minister and his Indian counterpart in Moscow resulted in a deal brokered by Russia. Both parties have reached a five-point consensus to ease tension on Chinese terms.

The Chinese terms, reportedly agreed to by India, also include that China will not vacate the area they have occupied—approximately 1000 square kilometres. In the joint statement, there is no mention of the LAC or a reference to the 1993 agreement since, to China, the 1959 LAC is actually the Chinese Claim Line. The 1993 LAC has been obliterated and does not exist anymore and a new phrase has been coined and agreed upon by India; ‘Border Area’. India will also review the ban it has imposed on some Chinese companies and will also review trade and commercial sanctions. Now, all eyes are on military commanders to work out modalities to ease any tension and disengagement. China has made it clear that they won’t go back even an inch as responsibility of recent escalation lies entirely with India.

The Chinese newspaper, Global Times, wrote in a recent editorial that any talks with India should be paired with war readiness. An Indian newspaper quoted that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has sworn not to surrender even one inch of territory. Despite the Indian army’s recent statement, “Indian army is fully prepared and capable of fighting a full-fledged war even in the winters” is contrary to options available to India as they don’t have the capability or the will to fight a war. In another editorial, the newspaper wrote, “if India wants peace, China and India should uphold the LAC of November 7, 1959. If India wants war China will oblige”. Deep scars of the 1962 humiliation were still fresh when China replayed the same in Ladakh. India has now succumbed to Chinese pressure meaning, China has effectively brought India to its knees.