Why in News?
- Recently, troops from India and China were involved in a clash in Naku La in Sikkim.
Why do the standoffs happen?
In Sikkim, there is agreement between India and China on aligning the border, which is essentially the watershed between the waters that flow into the Teesta, and those into the Amo Chu and other rivers in Tibet.
- But as of now the border has not actually been demarcated on the ground. As it is, there have been issues in the so-called Finger Area to the east of Naku La. The Chinese have been contesting the boundary in the north-eastern arc of Sikkim, because this is in an area where terrain allows India to deploy armoured units that can threaten the roads connecting Tibet to the Chumbi Valley.
- The 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) states: “When necessary, the two sides shall jointly check and determine the segments of the (LAC) where they have different views as to its alignment”.
Why is Naku La important for China?
- China has been developing two air defence positions that will cover the 2017 Doklam stand-off area and also Naku La in Sikkim.
- It is also close to Siliguri Corridor (Chicken’s Neck Corridor) that connects mainland India with North East India. By taking advantage of this geographically important position, China can get more influence over Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its territory.
- This could also be a pressure tactic by China to force India on its objection to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Modus operandi of China
- China’s history of territorial conquests falls in the ‘fait accompli’ category. Sparsely populated/unpopulated and undefended territories have been the prime targets. Chinese moves in East Asia, South China Sea and Sino-Indian border provide ample evidence.
- The current situation in Ladakh and Sikkim seems to suggest that China is playing its favourite game of seizing disputed territory that is not populated and is not permanently occupied by the border guarding forces. The confrontation in Galwan River valley, Pangong Tso, and Naku La in north Sikkim are examples.
- Once incursions are made by China, military assets, including the creation of permanent roads and military structures are created, along with building of township for a civilian population
- China is trying to influence India’s decision-making in the context of the US-China geopolitical competition.