5 key reasons behind India-China standoff at the Galwan Valley
In a violent clash between India-China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan valley, 20 Indian soldiers were martyred. However, this is not the first time that the India-China border dispute happened, but in 1993, both the countries signed an agreement to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border.
Previous Face-offs between India and China
1- In 1962, the India-China War lasted for a month in Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh region.
2- In 1967, in Nathu La, many Indian and Chinese soldiers were killed in the violent stand-off.
3- In 1975, the Chinese Army attacked Indian Army patrolling in the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control.
Reasons behind India-China Standoff at Galwan Valley
1- Construction of roads
In 2018-19, Ministry of Defence in its annual report stated that the government will be constructing the roads along the India-China border. Phase 1 of this project has been completed. Under Phase 2 of the project, 32 roads will be built by India along the border. China has been opposing this construction as it doesn't want India to fully utilize the road. India has ramped up the construction of the road despite the current border tensions. The construction of these roads will increase the Indian Military presence in the areas near the border.
2- Abrogation of Article 370
On August 5, 2019, the Government of India scraped Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. After the abrogation of Article 370, two separate Union Territories were created-- first Jammu and Kashmir and second Ladakh.
China opposed this decision of the Central Government and stated that it has always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory (Ladakh) in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction. Recently, India has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law. Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force.
The matter was taken to the UN Security Council where India clarified its stand on scraping the Article 370 and citied it as India's internal matter.
3- Observation Post on the Indian side of LAC
Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s insisted to construct an observation post at Indian patrolling point that resulted in the clash between the armies of the two nations at Galwan. The observation post would have helped the Chinese Army to monitor Indian troop movement towards the Karakoram and would also have had the capacity to interdict army vehicles plying on the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO) road. Moreover, the observation post was on the Indian side of the LAC.
4- China's Criticism at the International level
China is facing wide criticism due to its internal politics and secondly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, China passed the Hong Kong National Security Law which faced wide criticism both at internal and international level.
China is also facing criticism upon the mistreatment of the Uighur Muslims. U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation calling for sanctions over the repression of China's Uighur Muslims. As per UN data, more than a million Muslims have been detained in the camps in the Xinjiang region.
The US lawmaker Scott Perry has introduced a bill in the US Congress to recognize Tibet as an independent country. The bill also challenges the One China Policy. The bill includes the arbitrary detention of Gedhun Choekyo Nyima (6 years old when detained) who was identified as the next Panchen Lama by the 14th Dalai Lama.
The trade war between the US and China is another reason behind the face-off at Galwan. This trade war has impacted the farmers and manufacturers of the US due to the inflation while China has recorded a decrease in its economic growth and manufacturing activity.
The dispute between China and Taiwan is yet another reason. China wants Taiwan to accept the one country, two systems formula but Taiwan wants a separate nation.
China is also expanding its footprints in the Indian Ocean and has modernised its Djibouti naval base which was earlier a logistic unit.
Lastly, China is facing international pressure over the origin and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several countries are demanding an international investigation over the origin and mishandling of virus by China.
5- India's foreign policy
Indian Government has recently passed new FDI rules to discourage the opportunistic takeovers at low values in Indian companies amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Entities from seven countries--Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan and Afghanistan; sharing a land border with India or where the beneficial owner of investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest in Indian entities only under the Government route.
As India imports maximum from China among its neighbouring countries, new FDI rules will impact China to a greater extent.