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From Ladakh To Sikkim, India-China Border Dispute Intensifies Along The Line Of Actual Control

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India-China border dispute along the line of actual control (LaC) is on the rise after both nations engaged each other in Sikkim and Ladakh.  Soldiers from India and China clashed at the border areas of Naku La pass in North Sikkim garnering global headlines. 

The border dispute between India and China further fared after Chinese helicopters were spotted near the LaC in Ladakh and were met by Sukhoi 30MKI jets of the India Air force(IAF).

Choppers of the Chinese Air Force were spotted flying close at the LaC in Ladakh after the clashes at the border areas of Pangong Lake and Sikkim erupted. Although the Chinese did not cross into the Indian airspace, the IAF scrambled Su-30 jets to patrol the area.

However, there has been no official clarification if the patrol was a normal occurrence or took place in the wake of Chinese provocative actions.

India maintains two air bases, Leh and Thoise, in the Union Territory of Ladakh. Both countries regularly fly missions and carry out patrols on their respective side of the borders.

However, since the border is poorly demarcated there have been instances of airspace violation. China has been accused of purposely leaving trails after violating Indian airspace to assert its claims over the disputed territory.

India-China Border Dispute

India and Chinese troops engaged each other at Pangong Lake in Ladakh on May 5 this year. Around 250 troops clashed in a fierce battle according to the Times of India.

According to reports, the Chinese troops managed to enter the Finger-4 area of the lake but were halted from moving in further by the Indian Army. The following day, the commanders met after the end of the face-off but tensions in the area still remain high.

Pangong lake is a 135-km long, located in Ladakh and stretches out from India to China. A third of the lake, roughly 45 km stretch, is under Indian control while the rest of the 90 km is under Chinese control.

Only a week later, Indian and Chinese troops got embroiled in a fierce battle at the Naku La sector in Sikkim. The scuffle started during regular patrolling and resulted in a fierce ‘armless’ clash between the soldiers of the armed forces with 4 Indian soldiers and 7 Chinese soldiers needing treatment afterwards.

The situation at the 5,000m high border pass was de-escalated after senior officials and troops engaged in a local-level discussion. Army sources speaking to ANI said that such incidents occur due to the unsettled border dispute, however, this particular incident happened after a long time.

Multifront Attack- Testing Indian Response?

According to geopolitical analysts speaking to the EurAsian Times, the incidents in Naku La and Pangong Lake should not be treated as isolated incidents. In fact, these actions showcase that China is testing Indian response at multiple fronts.

As part of its ploy, the Chinese Navy has also increased in presence in the Indian Ocean as part of its Maritime Silk Route (MSR) initiative led by President Xi Jing Ping.

This has put the Indian Navy on high alert since they remain sceptical of Chinese activities and believe that Beijing is using the cover of MSR to map the Indian Ocean and carry out surveys.

Beijing has been testing the response of countries in the South China Sea and near the Taiwan Strait too. Experts believe China is deploying similar tactics on India as well in a bid to study and observe New Delhi’s response.

India and China have had a turbulent relationship as both nations fought a brief, but bloody war in 1962 and have been regularly involved in border disputes along the LaC as well as in the Indian Ocean.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LaC, with China claiming the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Both China and India consider the maintenance of peace and harmony to be vital as both nations find a solution to the border dispute.

Only a few years ago, the nuclear-armed countries were involved in the fiercest dispute since the 1960s, as soldiers of both countries were engaged in a 73-day standoff in Doklam. While the two countries have been largely peaceful since 2017, the recent flare-ups could be detrimental to the Sino-Indian relationship.

Asia Pacific

US Could Recognize Tibet As An ‘Independent Country’ As US-China Tensions Escalate

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Does the US plan to recognize Tibet as an independent country? In a bid to increase pressure on China, a Congress member in the US has introduced a bill that aims to recognize Tibet as an independent country and challenge One China Policy.

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U.S. Congressman Scott Perry introduced a bill in the US Congress last week which directly challenges Chinese claims over Tibet. The bill, H.R. 6948, would authorise the U.S. President to recognise the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China “as a separate, independent country, and for other purposes”. The bill was also referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Perry, a war veteran from Pennsylvania, has also introduced a similar bill for Hong Kong. For the bill to become law it has to pass the House and the Senate before it goes to the President for the seal of approval.

The introduction of the bill comes after earlier this month, the US Senate gave nod to a legislation to block Chinese firms from getting listed on the American stock exchanges. According to experts at EurAsian Times, these decisions come at the time when the US is looking to mount pressure of China for its mishandling of the virus and relentless bullying in Asia.

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Tibetans Welcome Move

The introduction of the bill has been enthusiastically welcomed by Tibetans everywhere. Many prominent Tibetans took to social media to applaud the move by Washington which has raised faint hopes of independence from Chinese occupation.

Tenzin Tsundue, a poet, writer, and Tibetan activist based in New Delhi shared his thoughts on his Facebook and welcomed the move and labelled the bill introduced Scott Perry as a good move.

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Another Tibetan writer and political activist, Tenzin Dorjee, also shared the news about the bill. New York-based Dorjee encouraged fellow Tibetans and supporters to write to Rep. Perry’s office to thank and praise him for this unprecedented initiative.

Many Uighurs, an ethnic Muslim group, have also welcomed the decision by Rep. Perry. China has been on the receiving end of condemnation from the international community for forcing ethnic Uighurs to be interned in concentration camps in Xinjiang.

Estimates suggest that 1-2 million Uighur Muslims from Kazakhstan and China have been detained in Chinese camps for ‘de-radicalization’ purposes.

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The Tibet Dispute

To understand the Tibetan dispute, one must go back a century. Tibet declared independence after the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912 and functioned as an independent protectorate until 1950.

The situation changed when communist China, under Mao Zedong, wrested control from Tibet a year after the Chinese civil war.

The Tibetans signed a 17 point agreement handing over its sovereignty to Beijing, the first time China ever exercised control over the region. The Chinese use the same document as proof of Chinese sovereignty over the pristine Himalayan region while the Tibetans claim that they were forced to sign the document.

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Currently, the region is administered by China as the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Tibetans accuse China of carrying out large scale human right violations as well as changing the ethnic makeup of the region by encouraging large scale migration of Chinese Han people.

Often referred to as the ‘roof of the world’, Tibet is strategically important to China. It allows Chinese access to India due to its proximity and can be used as an airbase at the time of crisis, such as in the present Sino-Indian conflict.

India got involved in the Tibet dispute after it offered refuge to Dalai Lama, the leader of the exiled Tibetan government, in Mcleoganj in 1959. Since then India has given shelter to many Tibetan refugees at odds with the Chinese government and this has led to an increase in Sino-Indian tensions.

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For the US, the issue of Tibet has come to life after decades. The CIA covertly supported indigenous Tibetan uprisings in the 1950s but this stopped after Richard Nixon came to power in 1971.

While it is unlikely that the US goes to war with China over Tibet, the latest bill can be used to deter Chinese expansionist ambitions in both Asia and the Pacific. China has made provocative moves in the South China Sea, Strait of Taiwan, Hong Kong and near the Line of Actual Control with India.

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Asia Pacific

How China Has Used COVID-19 To Escalate Military Conflicts & Crush ‘Democratic’ Voices?

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COVID-19 has brought the entire world to a standstill except for China which is finding it a perfect time to escalate military conflicts, intensify border disputes and curtail democratic freedom. 

Experts talking to the EurAsian Times agree that many nations are using the cover of the coronavirus to take advantage of the situation and forwarding their political agenda as the world remains distracted.

China has been the most active in promoting its regional interests during COVID-19 pandemic with Hong Kong and India facing the brunt of Chinese hostilities.

China was one of the first countries to shut its border and bring the entire country to a standstill in a bid to curb COVID-19, however, this did not stop China from making provocative moves in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, India Ocean and even the Himalayas.

Near the Strait of Taiwan, Chinese naval vessels and airforce have regularly engaged in military drills aimed at invading Taiwan, which Beijing calls a renegade province. As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, experts believe that military drills were conducted to test the response of Taiwan, as well as the US, in case China invaded the island nation.

Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous region of China under the ‘One China-two system’ framework, is also facing Chinese hostility. The National People’s Congress (NCP) has proposed a new national security law that aims to curtail HK’s freedom and potentially arrest critics for treason, secession, sedition and subversion.

The new law not only overrides Hong Kong’s constitution but threatens pro-democracy supporters. As expected, the move has drawn international criticism and violent protests from citizens in Hong Kong. Many experts have called it ‘perfect timings’ in reference to COVID-19 pandemic.

China has also been accused of bullying the ASEAN nations in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and COVID-19 did not stop Beijing from its hostile, aggressive manoeuvres.

China tracked Malaysian ships, took control of Islands claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines and even sunk a Vietnamese fishing vessel. China lays claims to almost 80% of the South China Sea and has regularly made provocative moves in the region.

Although thousands of miles, the United States was quick to stand up Chinese bullying tactics. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force conducted naval and aerial exercises in the region to reassure allies and stay committed to unrestricted movement through the waterway.

US and China are already involved in a trade dispute and the coronavirus has only intensified tensions between the two powerhouses. The US has consistently blamed China for spreading the virus and threatened to cut ‘all ties’ with Beijing.

Deep in the Himalayas’, India was the next country to witness Chinese aggression. New Delhi has not only locked horns in the high reaches of the Himalayas but also the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Soldiers from India and China have exchanged blows at Pangong Lake in Ladakh and Naku-La Pass in North Sikkim. Currently, both countries are involved in a bitter border conflict in Galwan Valley in Aksai Chin along the Line of Actual Control (LaC). Experts have called it the worst stand-off between India and China since 2017 Doklam dispute.

Prior to border tensions, India also witnessed increasing Chinese hostilities in the Indian Ocean region. China has regularly mapped the ocean, conducted patrols and has redeveloped an island in the Maldives.

In response, the Indian Navy flexed its muscle by sailing destroyers and naval ships in the area. The Navy has also fired a warning at intruding Chinese vessels and stated that Indian Navy remains ‘battle-ready’ despite the pandemic.

Tensions with key Chinese ally – Pakistan have been on the rise. India has seen in an increase in violence as cross-border shelling, insurgency and counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir. According to South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), 24 members of the armed forces have lost their lives and 49 militants have been eliminated since March 2020.

Towards the east, Nepal has been a staunch ally of India and acts as a natural buffer between New Delhi and Beijing. However, Indo-Nepalese relations are under duress as the normally friendly neighbours are currently engaged in a territorial dispute.

Both Kathmandu and New Delhi claim Kalapani to be an integral part of their country and this dispute has soured ties between them. Nepal claims to be acting on its own and standing up for itself while India suspects Chinese involvement behind Nepalese claims.

When it comes to furthering political interest, it would be wrong to only point fingers at China. Playing the same game are countries including Iran, Israel and Russia.

One of the oldest unresolved issues in international politics involves Israel-Palestine conflict. The Israel-Palestine dispute is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode as the planned West Bank annexation by Israel nears.

During the pandemic, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has said that Israel will not miss the “historic opportunity” to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. Palestine, Jordan, European Union, United Kingdom disagree with Jerusalem but Israel has the full backing of Donald Trump – the US president.

While discussing increasing Russian strength in eastern Europe, political analysts believe that Ukraine could lose more territory to Russia as Crimea faces a severe water shortage. Despite the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, Vladimir Putin is hardly a man that would be deterred from pursuing his political ambitions.

Much like the annexation of Crimea, more Ukrainian territory could meet a similar fate. With most of Europe busy dealing with the outbreak, Putin will not have such an opportunity again.

Although countries facing threats from other nations can depend on allies for support, Australia finds itself in an awkward position. The Kangaroos have managed to become entangled in the dispute between US-China. Canberra finds itself in a situation where it must choose between the US – the strategic defence ally and China – its biggest trading partner.

The post-COVID world could likely bring a new world order where countries become increasingly wary of each other. The era of globalization as we know could come to an end as countries become more self-sufficient and reduce their dependence on one another. A cold war seems likely, so does rise in protectionism and nationalism.

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Asia Pacific

BUSTED: Xi Jinping Asks Army To Be ‘Battle Ready’ Againt India As China Evacuating Its Citizens

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India-China border tensions are increasing but Beijing has accused the Indian media of adding fuel to the fire by reporting fabricated news. China is planning to evacuate its citizens from India and the media have directly linked it to India-China border conflict, says Beijing. 

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The evacuation program should be seen as a regular service provided by the embassy to its citizens. Yet, some Indian news outlets have deliberately connected the evacuation to the border tension between China and India, fueling a new round of reckless speculation that China may be preparing for war, a report in Global Times says.

It is logical that Beijing would assist its citizens to return to their home country, given the challenges in the aviation sector. India stopped all incoming international flights in late March, and its ongoing coronavirus lockdown has stranded students, visitors and businessmen, explains the GT.

GT says the New Delhi should not misunderstand the evacuation move by China this time. After all, it was not long ago that the Indian government repatriated its citizens from various nations.

Still, any attempt to increase the confusion between the two nations is extremely incorrect at present. GT says that the Indian economy is now suffering from crippling lockdown while poor people are facing the threat of famine. China has no intention of heightening the border disputes with India, so its support to its citizens during Covid-19 should not be over-interpreted.

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Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 26 called on the Chinese Army – PLA “to think about worst-case scenarios” and “scale up battle preparedness”. Xi commented during his annual meeting with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) representatives attending the National People’s Congress.

However, Xi’ had also referred to “battle preparedness” during his meeting with the PLA in 2019. This year, his speech centred on the post-pandemic situation, as he heard the PLA members of Parliament reporting on “strengthening training amid the epidemic, and accelerating capacity building on biosecurity defence”.

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President Xi said the Covid-19 epidemic “brought a profound impact on the global landscape and on China’s security and development as well”. He “ordered the PLA to think about worst-case scenarios, scale up training and battle preparedness, quickly and efficiently manage with all sorts of complicated circumstances and firmly protect national sovereignty, security and interests,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.

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