August 29, 2023
In a move that has reignited tensions between India and China, the Chinese government recently released a revised map that includes Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as part of its territory. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar responded to the development by stating, “It’s an old habit of theirs. These (territories) are very much part of India. This government is very clear what our territories are. Making absurd claims doesn’t make others’ territories yours.”
The longstanding border dispute between India and China has been a point of contention for decades, with both countries claiming Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin. China occupied Aksai Chin during the 1962 war, while Arunachal Pradesh is considered an integral part of India.
Beyond the territorial claims over Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, China’s new map also asserts its sovereignty over Taiwan and the South China Sea. Beijing views Taiwan as part of its mainland and aims to integrate it as outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, Taiwan remains a self-governed island with its own government and military.
The South China Sea has been a hotspot of territorial disputes involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. The region’s natural resources and strategic location have made it a subject of contention for years.
Provocation coinciding G20
China’s timing in releasing this provocative map is notable, as it coincides with the upcoming G20 summit to be hosted by India from September 8-10. World leaders, including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, are set to attend the event in Delhi.
The strained relationship between India and China stems from the Galwan Valley clash three years ago. Since then, both countries have engaged in 19 rounds of military-level talks, attempting to find common ground and de-escalate tensions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent meeting with Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg underscored India’s concerns over the significant deployment of PLA forces in East Ladakh. Modi emphasized that the path to normalization hinges on disengagement and de-escalation along the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC).
China’s territorial assertions have consistently fueled geopolitical tensions in the region. As leaders gather for the G20 summit, all eyes will be on the diplomatic discussions and negotiations that will play a crucial role in determining the trajectory of India-China relations.