What’s in the news?
- Two United States Senators have introduced a resolution in the upper chamber of Congress reiterating that the US recognises the McMahon Line as the international boundary between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The resolution reaffirms India’s well-known and established position that Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls ‘South Tibet’, is an integral part of India.
- The resolution indicates a clear hardening of America’s stand against China and also possibly America’s willingness to insert itself into border disputes between India and China and increase India-US military cooperation.
What is the McMahon Line?
- The McMahon Line serves as the de facto boundary between China and India in the Eastern Sector.
- It was established by Sir Henry McMahon, then Foreign Secretary in the Government of British India, and is known as the McMahon Line after him. It is 890 kilometres long.
- It specifically represents the boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet, from Bhutan in the west to Myanmar in the east.
- The McMahon line was the result of the 1914 Shimla Treaty between India and Tibet. But, China does not accept this agreement or line.
- China has historically disputed the boundary and claims the state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).
What is the Shimla Treaty?
- The 1914 Simla Convention (attended by the representatives of British India, Tibet and Republic of China) recognized the McMahon Line as the boundary between Tibet (an independent region at the time) and British India.
- However, the Chinese representative repudiated the conference due to differences over the text and to this day, China considers it illegal.
- Hence, the McMahon Line is the unambiguous boundary line between India and China, according to the Shimla Treaty.
- The British believed Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and the southern part of Tibet to be part of India, which the Tibetans consented to. As a result, Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang region became a part of India.
Why Doesn’t China Accept the McMohan Line?
- According to China, Tibet has always been a part of its territory, hence the representatives of Tibet are not entitled to approve any deal without Chinese authorization. China entirely captured Tibet in 1950. The McMahon Line is no longer approved or accepted by China.
- China also contends that China was not involved in the Shimla Treaty, so it is not binding on it. China claimed its right to Arunachal Pradesh only after the takeover of Tibet in 1950.
- However, India says that because Tibet was a weak but autonomous country when the McMahon Line was created in 1914, it has every right to negotiate a border deal with any country.
- The McMahon Line is recognised by India and is considered the ‘Actual Line of Control (LAC)’ between India and China, however China does not accept the McMahon Line.
- China believes the disputed territory is 2,000 kilometres long, while India asserts it is 4,000 kilometres long.
- The Chinese however claim that Chinese territory extends southerly to the foothills of the Himalayas. This border dispute with independent India sparked the Sino-Indian war of October-November 1962.