Aksai Chin: The Root Cause of India-China Border Conflict
Aksai Chin is one of the two major controversial border regions whose ownership is claimed by both India and China, with Arunachal Pradesh being the other one. The etymology of Aksai Chin is uncertain. Although aksai is a Turk term for white brooks, it is widely believed that the word chin has nothing to do with China.
As per the Indian version of cartography, the region is marked under Ladakh district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, in reality China administers the region as a part of Hotan County of Xinjiang Autonomous Region and negates India’s claim to cede the land to India.
This high-tension India-China border dispute has led both the nations witness a short skirmish in 1962, which resulted into status quo ante bellum. In 1993 and 1996, India and China signed a treaty to respect the Line of Actual Control. However, there are reports about the Chinese military personnel involved in border infringement, especially in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Aksai Chin: Its Importance
To focus this discourse specifically over China’s desire to hold back Aksai Chin, we must understand the geographical importance of the area. Although topographically it is a tremendously inhospitable, high altitude desert area; strategically it has an enormous value.
Being situated at high altitude and in proximity to New Delhi, Aksai Chin makes Beijing a major threat to India’s sovereignty. During any event of India-China border dispute Aksai Chin can be used as gateway to run down the PLA forces well into the heart of India within a quick time. The territory is also well-positioned to check any infiltration from different parts of central Asia.
To put it into a single line Aksai Chin acts as China’s indestructible watch tower looking all over central Asia and India.
Aksai Chin: The Sword of Damocles Hanging Over India
Aksai Chin guarantees Beijing with all what it needs to secure the western and southwestern boundaries. More importantly, it has left the Indian strategists with no other option but to spend a major chunk of money and manpower on border security.
This has substantially refrained India from focussing into the core issues of development, while China had been busy with peaceful researches and innovations. Moreover, during any Indo-Pak war, China could also use this strategic location to provide logistic supply to the Pakistani troops.
China, being an all-weather friend of Pakistan and a hostile nation to India, such a possibility is very much on the cards.
Hence, with no second thought, China truly savours an unquestionable strategic advantage over India due to their dominion over Aksai Chin. The sooner we wake up and smell the coffee, the better it will be for us. And people who make a hue and cry on the escalating defence budget, this discourse will probably make them understand why India cannot afford to loosen up.