More than a century of India-China border disputes
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More than a century of India-China border disputes

The most violent encounter in decades between Indian and Chinese military soldiers stationed on the two sides of the disputed border in the Himalayas did not involve any gunfire.

Instead, soldiers from two nuclear-armed nations crafted weapons from what they could find in the middle of a barren wasteland more than 4,200 meters above sea level.

Soldiers of the Indian Border Security Force guard a highway leading to the town of Leh, near the border with China, on June 17.

With sticks and stones, under a moonlit sky along the jagged cliffs of the Galwan valley, they charged at each other, brawling for hours.

The fight happened on the evening of June 15 when an Indian patrol encountered a group of Chinese soldiers on a narrow mountainside in the Ladakh area, Kashmir region.

China accused Indian soldiers of crossing the border and then attacking soldiers, while India asserted that Chinese troops crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which serves as the border between the two countries.

Soldiers from both sides did not open fire because of a 1996 bilateral agreement that stipulates `neither side shall open fire, use dangerous chemicals, conduct explosions or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometers of

The clash is the result of escalating tensions that have accumulated over the past several months and more than a century of dispute between the two countries.

The conflict had lasted since at least 1914, when representatives of Britain, the Republic of China, and Tibet gathered in Simla, in what is now India, to negotiate a treaty that would help settle the issue of Tibet and Tibet.

The Chinese side did not agree with the terms proposed in the treaty, which would allow Tibet to enjoy autonomy but remain under Chinese control, and refused to sign the agreement.

India considers the McMahon Line, which extends 885 km across the Himalayas, to be the official legal border between India and China.

In 1947, India declared independence from Britain.

Almost immediately, disagreements arose between the two countries at the border.

China is constantly seeking to control key roads near its western border in Xinjiang, while India and its Western allies see Chinese incursions as part of its

In 1962, war broke out.

Chinese soldiers crossed the McMahon Line and took up positions deep inside Indian territory, taking control of many passes and towns.

In November, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai announced a ceasefire, redrawn the border near where the Chinese army occupied, taking the new name LAC.

Tensions returned again in 1967 along the Nathu La and Cho La passes connecting Sikkim, then an Indian protectorate, with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

The fight broke out when Indian soldiers placed barbed wire along what they considered the border.

The clashes in September and October 1967 at Nathu La and Cho La passes were later considered the second full-scale war between China and India.

Chinese soldiers guarding the border on Nathu La Pass in 1967. Photo: Hulton Archive.

India ultimately prevailed.

Twenty years later, in 1987, the Indian army conducted a training exercise to assess how quickly it could deploy troops to the border.

Realizing the risk of accidentally provoking a war, both India and China de-escalated tensions and the crisis was averted.

Both sides still maintain the `cat and mouse` tactic.

After decades of border patrols, a Chinese platoon in April 2013 camped near Daulat Beg Oldi.

The camps were then reinforced with troops and heavy equipment.

By May, the two sides agreed to dismantle both camps but disagreements over the location of the LAC still existed.

In June 2017, China began implementing a plan to build a road on the Doklam plateau, an area of the Himalayas controlled by Bhutan, an ally of India.

The Doklam Plateau lies on the border between Bhutan and China, but India views it as a buffer zone close to disputed areas with China.

Chinese fighter jets parked at Gonggar airport in the Tay Tang autonomous region in June 1987.

The Indian army brought weapons and sent bulldozers to confront China with the intention of destroying the road.

In August, the two countries agreed to withdraw from the disputed area and China stopped building the road.

Since May 2020, riots have broken out many times.

US President Donald Trump has offered to mediate the India-China border dispute.

Vu Hoang (According to the New York Times)

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