LAC from the British Era
The line of Actual Control (LAC) has been the buzz for last couple of weeks with China as usual claiming the territory of a neighbouring country. This is not the fisrt time that China has claimed a territory of a neighbour. Infact, if one unfolds the Chinese history of territorial dispute, the dragon has territory dispute with all its neighbours. But, the most heated of all in present context is the LAC with India. This has led to a major war between the two Asian giants and border skimishes for the last 6 decades. Let us unfold the history that has led to such border volatility.
The historic agreement between China and Colonial India
According to the agreement between the Crown of two nations signed in 1890 popularly known as " The Convention of Calcutta":
- "The boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet. The line commences at Mount Gipmochi on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory.
- It is admitted that the British Government, whose Protectorate over the Sikkim State is hereby recognised, has direct and exclusive control over the internal administration and foreign relations of that State, and except through and with the permission of tile British Government neither the Ruler of the State nor any of its officers shall have official relations of any kind, formal or informal, with any other country.
- The Government of Great Britain and Ireland and the Government of China engage reciprocally to respect the boundary as defined in Article I, and to prevent acts of aggressions from their respective sides of the frontier.
- The questions of providing increased facilities for trade across the Sikkim Tibet frontier will hereafter be discussed with a view to a mutually satisfactory arrangement by the High Contracting Powers.
- The question of pasturage on the Sikkim side of the frontier is reserved for further examination and future adjustment.
- The High Contracting Powers reserve for discussion and arrangement the method in which official communications between the British authorities in India and the authorities in Tibet shall be conducted.
- Two joint Commissioners shall, within six months from the ratification of this Convention, be appointed, one by the British Government in India,, the other by the Chinese Resident in Tibet. The said Commissioners shall meet and discuss the questions which, by the last three preceding Articles, have been reserved.
- The present Convention shall be ratified, and the ratifications shall be exchanged in London as soon as possible after the date of the signature thereof. In witness whereof the respective negotiators have signed the same, and affixed thereunto the seals of their arms. Done in quadruplicate at Calcutta, this 17th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1890, corresponding with the Chinese date, the 27th day of the second moon of the 16th year of Kuang Hsu. Landsdowne Signature of the Chinese Plenipotentiary. The Convention was signed at Calcutta. No Tibetan representative was present or took part in the negotiations.
Johnson line later known as Ardagh-Johnson line was a boundary line demarcated along the crest of the Kunlun Mountains north of the river Yarkand. This line is very important since it demarcates the area of Aksai Chin. It was the Chinese Government from 1911 till the capture of power by CCP recognised the line and even published and showed Aksai Chin as Indian territory by Postal Altas of China in 1933 and even by Perking University Atlas in 1925. Another attempt was made by British govt in India via Macartney-Macdonald line proposal which Chinese Govt never responded thus status quo was maintained with Ardagh-Johnson line.
The MacMohan line was demarcated between British India and the erstwhile independent Tibet from Tibet to North-eastern India by Simla Convention of 1914. The line is recognised by India as official border with China but China does not believe in same. In fact, they lay claim over the areas of Sikkim, Ladakh and Arunachal referring the area as five fingers with Tibet being the palm( other two are Bhutan and Nepal).
Many rounds of talks have been concluded unsuccessfully between the two nations. This had even led to border skirmishes between the two with only 1967 providing to be bloody. Since, then border has remained calmed owning to China’s chess moves. They move like a knight of a Chess taking 2.5 steps forwards and returns like a pawn with just one step. By this mean, they have illegally occupied India territory which remained up scaled till 2014.
The problem remains that China has to maintain a status quo of the previous treaties by they create their own new status quo every 2-3 years by occupying no man land area and construction in the area which violates their agreement with India. To maintain tranquility on borders, agreements were signed in 1993. The agreement stated not to patrol the area with ammunition and no transgressing in each other land. It also included a very vital clause of not constructing any base camp which years after years China violated.
Way forwardNone of the nations would like to afford a war as it will hamper their economies. China has been very aggressive when it comes to border as it is already in dispute with at least half a dozen nations. Both Asian giants can make havoc on world economy if war broke out. It is up to China to decline the war and dragon need to take concrete steps to resolve these issues without asserting with fist.