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India: China’s Galwan claim unacceptable

China’s Galwan claim unacceptable: India

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In News: China’s Galwan claim unacceptable

  • In the latest official statement released by China on June 19, it has claimed the whole of Galwan Valley and stated that “China always owned sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region.”
  • India has described these claims as untenable and not in accordance with China’s own position in the past.

News Summary: China’s Galwan claim unacceptable

  • On June 15, the worst violence on the India-China border since 1967 claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers.
  • The clash occurred at Point 14 of the Galwan Valley which is of strategic importance.
  • China has claimed that Indian troops entered the Chinese territory by crossing the Galwan estuary on 15th
  • However, Chinese claims in the past had never extended up till the estuary.
  • As per the Ministry of External Affairs’ statement, Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of LAC in all the sectors of India- China border and abide by it scrupulously.

About: Galwan Valley

  • The Galwan valley is the land that sits between steep mountains that buffet the Galwan River.
  • The valley is strategically located between Ladakh in the west and Aksai Chin in the east. (Aksai Chin is currently controlled by China as part of its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.)
  • At its western end are the Shyok river and the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road.

About: Darbuk Shyok Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) Road

  • It’s newly built by India and leads to the base of the Karakoram Pass.
  • Galwan Valley’s eastern mouth lies not far from China’s vital Xinjiang Tibet road, now called the G219 highway.

Galwan River:

  • The Galwan river has its source in Aksai Chin which is on China’s side of the LAC.
  • The Galwan river flows from the east to Ladakh, where it meets the Shyok river on India’s side of the LAC.

Importance of Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road and Point 14:

  • China is increasingly uneasy about India’s infrastructure development as India has built the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road in this region.
  • If China manages to build an observation tower in this area or Point 14 to be specific, they can disrupt traffic over an under-construction bridge along the DSDBO road.
  • The recent clashes between two armies are to be understood in the backdrop of China’s objection since early May to India’s road construction activities at the western end of the valley in the area between the Galwan-Shyok confluence and the LAC.

Where does the Line of Actual Control lie?

  • The LAC lies east of the confluence of the Galwan and Shyok rivers in the valley.
  • After the June 15 clash, China has claimed that the entire Galway valley lies on its side of the LAC which pegs the line further west near the Shyok river.
China’s Galwan claim unacceptable: India

What do Maps tell us?

  • Maps paint a complicated picture.
  • 1956 Map of China– It showed the entire Galwan Valley as a part of India.
  • June 1960 Map of China- It claimed sovereignty over the valley.
  • November 1962 Map of China– It also claims the entire valley.
  • Subsequent maps have not shown the western tip of the river as a part of China.

Earlier Agreements between India and China:

  1. Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement (BPTA), 1993
    • According to it, India and China agreed to “strictly respect and observe the LAC between the two sides”. This referred to the LAC at the time, rendering irrelevant the line of actual control in 1959 or 1962.
    • It also says that “when necessary, the two sides shall jointly check and determine the segments of the line of actual control where they have different views as to its alignment.”
    • The BPTA also said “the two sides agree that references to the line of actual control in this agreement do not prejudice their respective positions on the boundary question.”
  2. 1996 Agreement on Confidence- Building Measures
    • The LAC was also explicitly codified in the 1996 agreement on confidence-building measures and subsequent agreements.
    • China, however, has refused to exchange maps in the western sector to take this process forward.

Difference between Territorial Claims and the Line of Actual Control (LAC):

  • Territorial claims and LAC claims are not the same, but the distinction between them is sometimes blurred.
  • The LAC refers to territory under the effective control of each side, not to their entire territorial claim.
  • For instance, India’s territorial claims extend 38,000 sq km on the other side of the LAC across all of Aksai Chin, but the LAC India observes runs through the valley.
  • The LAC has never been demarcated and there are differences in perception of where it lies in more than a dozen spots, but there have not been previous incidents in the valley.
  • By now staking a claim to the entire Galwan Valley and up to the confluence of the Galwan and Shyok rivers, China is unilaterally altering the LAC.

Also Read: Editorial Analysis: Indo-China Conflict

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