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Face-off Between India and China

  • 11 May 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a temporary and short duration face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Naku La (Sikkim) and near Pangong Tso Lake (Eastern Ladakh).

Naku La

  • Naku La sector is a pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres above Mean Sea Level (MSL) in the state of Sikkim.
    • It is located ahead of Muguthang or Cho Lhamu (source of River Teesta).
  • At Muguthang, the road on the Chinese side is motorable, and on the Indian side, it is a remote area.
  • The other passes located in the state of Sikkim are Nathu La Pass and Jelep La Pass.

Pangong Tso Lake

  • Pangong Lake is located in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
  • It is situated at a height of almost 4,350m and is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
  • Extending to almost 160km, one-third of the Pangong Lake lies in India and the other two-thirds in China.

Key Points

  • The temporary and brief face-offs occur because the unresolved and undemarcated boundary issues.
    • The India-China border shares the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control.
  • Both countries have differing perceptions owing to the undemarcated boundary, which lead to transgressions and face-offs as each side patrols up to the areas.
  • Any such issue is resolved through the mutually established protocols to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border. The resolving mechanism also involves the local Border Personnel Meeting (BPM).
    • These protocols with China have been established to resolve issues amicably at the local formation commander level.
  • The recent clash happened three years after the Doklam stand-off between India and China (2017), which was also experienced across the border in Sikkim.
    • Doklam, or Donglang in Chinese, is an area spread over less than a 100 sq km comprising a plateau and a valley at the trijunction between India, Bhutan and China.
    • The Doklam issue was discussed in the Wuhan Summit (2018) and two nations decided to issue "strategic guidance" to their militaries to strengthen communications so that they can build trust and understanding.
McMahon Line Line of Actual Control
  • The 890-km McMahon Line separating British India and Tibet was drawn by Sir Henry McMahon at the China-Tibet-Britain Simla Convention (1914).
  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the effective border between India and China.
  • The line marked out previously unclaimed/undefined borders between Britain and Tibet. Also the Line put Tawang (a region of the present Arunachal Pradesh) in the British empire.
  • LAC was supposed to divide areas under Indian and Chinese control since the end of the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

  • The line was forgotten until the British government published the documents in 1937. Subsequently, China refused to accept the line.
  • Unlike the LoC (between India and Pakistan), the LAC was not mutually agreed upon. This was because the war ended with a unilateral ceasefire by China.

Global Examples of Aggressive Diplomacy by China

  • Covid-19 Origin:
    • China has been engaged in aggressive diplomacy with western countries, which have sought clarity on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic that has crippled the world economy, and led to almost four million people across the globe falling ill.
  • South China Sea:
    • It has also reported that China has established new administrative districts for the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos in the South China Sea.
    • China has also named 80 islands and other geographical features in the sea, claiming sovereignty over underwater features in the contested region.


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