Chinese boasting about an Indian court ruling

The latest Chinese claim on Ladakh is incorrect and not acceptable to India. Spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, Mao Ning has deliberately distorted the history of the Chinese claim on Ladakh.

The true position is that China has been illegally occupying parts of Ladakh since the Sino-India war of 1962 and has attempted to occupy larger areas since April 2020; which lead to the Galwan clash in June that year.

On December 16, 2023, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson claimed that the verdict of the Supreme Court of India upholding the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and the creation of the Union Territory of Ladakh “did not change the reality that the western section of the China-India border has always belonged to China.” Nor did China recognize the Union Territory of Ladakh, he said.

It appears that Mao Ning is not aware of history that Ladakh and Tibet have always been different countries and that the Chinese occupation of Tibet, by virtue of which Beijing is claiming territories in Ladakh, is illegal.

In the wake of a political turmoil in Tibet, in the middle of the 9th century, a king of western Tibet had migrated to Ladakh and set up his own dynasty; the Namgyal dynasty.

One such major incursion took place at the Depsang Plains in 2013. In April 2020, when the whole world was busy fighting the pandemic, the Chinese army took advantage of the situation and launched a surprise offensive all along eastern Ladakh.

On the issue of which sect of Tibetan Buddhism should gain prominence in Ladakh, Gelugpa or Drukpa Kagyu; a war between Ladakh and Tibet started during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama in Tibet.

At the end of the war, by virtue of the treaty of Tingmosgang of 1684, the border between Ladakh and Tibet was settled at the point of bisection of Pangong Tso.

There was one more war between Ladakh and Tibet when Ladakh came under Dogra rule. The borders between the two kingdoms were again settled at the same point of bisection of Pangong Tso by the treaty of Leh of 1842.

Beijing should also note that Guge in western Tibet, now under the Ngari prefecture, and the Mount Kailash region, had been under the Ladakhi kingdom since the middle of the 12th century.

In between, the region had gained autonomy but the lion king of Ladakh Sengge Namgyal had reoccupied Guge in 1630.

After the death of the 5th Dalai Lama, the regent of Tibet had sent to Ladakh his emissary, a lama belonging to the Drukpa Kagyu sect, to convince Delden Namgyal, the successor of Sengge Namgyal to negotiate a peace settlement between Ladakh and Tibet.

Under the terms of this settlement, the treaty of Tingmosgang was signed and Ladakh handed over Guge to Tibet.

Mao Ning, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry should be reminded that the point of bisection of Pangong Tso is next to Khurnak Fort. A Chinese map of 1956 showed that the India – China boundary, in the western sector, passed through Khurnak Fort.

The then Chinese Premier, Zhou Enlai had proclaimed to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in December 1959, that this map was the correct map of the India – China boundary.

China conjured a new map in 1960, pushing the boundary further west and claimed more territories of Ladakh as Chinese territory.

In the war of 1962, China occupied all these territories illegally and more; up to Sirijap in the northern part of Pangong Tso.

Since then, the line of actual control between the two countries in the Ladakh sector has been pushed further west gradually for China to occupy parts of the Finger area.

After the Galwan clash, to facilitate the movement of troops from the base of the Chinese army at Rudok Tibet to the Pangong Tso area, the Chinese army has constructed two bridges across the lake, close to Khurnak Fort.

One of the bridges is wide enough to accommodate battle tanks. This is again an illegal act as the true boundary between Ladakh and Tibet passes through Khurnak Fort and by virtue of bilateral protocols between India and China, no permanent construction is allowed within two kilometers of the border.

The Chinese claim is untenable that the place where the bridges have been set up is deep within Chinese territory.

In a series of communications between Jawaharlal Nehru and Zhou Enlai and between the Ministries of External Affairs of India and the Foreign Ministry of China between 1958 and 1962, which are on record, New Delhi had pointed out to Beijing that the agreement signed between Ladakh and Tibet in 1842 represented the historical and cultural boundaries between the two kingdoms and the subsequent claims by China following its illegal occupation of Tibet on territories in eastern Ladakh were unjustified.

A declassified CIA map has revealed that till 1958, Indian Army’s patrol party was going up to Lanak La, well within the Aksai Chin plateau.

In October 1959, an unsuspecting party from the Intelligence Bureau and the Central Reserve Police Force came under attack in the Lanak La area by Chinese troops, killing 10 people. That incident, in fact, marked the beginning of the war of 1962.

The party of Indian intelligence personnel and the police had gone to Lanak La to inquire into reports that China had built a road through Indian territories.

Prior to the merger of Ladakh with India, Lanak La was Ladakhi territory by virtue of the agreement between Ladakh and Tibet of 1842.

China built through Indian territories the Aksai Chin Road to connect illegally occupied Tibet with the forcibly occupied Xinjiang region and facilitate the movement of troops and maintain control over illegally occupied territories.

In the process, it violated the sovereign rights of India. It was like committing a fresh crime to conceal the original crime. In building the road without the knowledge of New Delhi, Beijing had taken advantage of the trust Jawaharlal Nehru had placed on the communist leaders of China under the Panchsheel Agreement of 1954.

Ever since the souring of relations with India over the building of the Aksai Chin Road, China has been carrying out a creeping invasion in eastern Ladakh.

Now Beijing has extended its claim over the whole of Ladakh. According to analysts, the motives can be several: to gain control of strategic areas along the Line of Actual Control to maintain the upper hand along the disputed border, to gain control of Ladakh which is strategically located at the meeting point of several trade routes since the ancient times, to link with Pakistani forces in Occupied Kashmir.

The creeping invasion started with the war of 1962 when the LAC that was running through the Khurnak Fort area was pushed west to Sirijap on the northern bank of Pangong Tso. Beijing took advantage of the preoccupation of the Indian army on the Pakistan border during the war of 1965 and pushed the LAC further west to Finger 4 in the Pangong Tso sector.

The Indian army is now capable of protecting Indian territories in Ladakh. In fact, whatever little incursions Chinese troops have managed to do in disputed areas in eastern Ladakh are by betrayal of trust and taking the Indian troops by surprise; not by military prowess.

Periodic attempts have been made by Chinese troops to transgress the LAC and make incursions deep inside territories claimed by India.

One such major incursion took place at the Depsang Plains in 2013. In April 2020, when the whole world was busy fighting the pandemic, the Chinese army took advantage of the situation and launched a surprise offensive all along eastern Ladakh.

Now Beijing is refusing to withdraw its troops from areas claimed by India. Among these are strategic locations like the Depsang Plains, close to the Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip of India and the Karakoram Pass.

Here again, the double standards of Beijing have been exposed. In keeping with the spirit of negotiations of de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control after the Galwan clash, Indian troops were withdrawn from the heights of Chushul which the Indian army had occupied in retaliation against the Chinese moves. But this has not been reciprocated by China by the withdrawal of Chinese troops from the Depsang Plains.

Beijing will do well, however, to note the lesson of the Galwan clash of June 2020 in which the Indian army gave Chinese troops a bloody nose. The days of 1962 are now history.

The Indian army is now capable of protecting Indian territories in Ladakh. In fact, whatever little incursions Chinese troops have managed to do in disputed areas in eastern Ladakh are by betrayal of trust and taking the Indian troops by surprise; not by military prowess.

Mao Ning will be well-advised to note that India is within its sovereign rights to constitute Ladakh into a Union Territory.

News Desk

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