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India’s Assertive Approach Towards China Could Encompass the Disputed Aksai Chin Territory - Analyst

© AFP 2023 / Diptendu DUTTAChinese soldier (L) gesturing next to an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in India's northeastern Sikkim state. (File)
Chinese soldier (L) gesturing next to an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in India's northeastern Sikkim state. (File) - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian is seeking US investment in the “Aksai Chin” region of Ladakh, but the territory is also claimed by China, and the two Asian giants fought a war over it in the early 1960s.

The Indian government is seeking American investment in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh which China views as a part of its Tibet region.

The move comes as the US ambassador Kenneth Juster to New Delhi is visiting the area to attend the Tawang Festival, which is being held close to the Chinese border.

Stating that Arunachal Pradesh is now seeking investment in tourism, agriculture and horticulture and hydropower, the State’s Chief Minister Pema Khandu is looking for the support of the US Embassy to attract American investment to the region.

India’s War Games Ahead of Xi’s Visit

The much publicised visit by the American ambassador comes days after India conducted war games in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, which are two sensitive areas for China.

The operational alert exercise in Ladakh was carried out despite China indicating its right to Ladakh, and just days after the Indian parliament announced the incorporation of Ladakh as an administrative region, separate from Jammu and Kashmir.

China told India that its decision was “unacceptable” and asked it to exercise caution over the boundary question, while strictly abiding by relevant agreements concluded between the two sides. It also asked India to avoid making any moves that may further complicate the boundary question.

But India has continued to assert itself over the border issue, conducting three war games along the Chinese border in recent months involving fighter jets, battle tanks, newly and thousands of troops.

India's move comes despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to India to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai. The two countries agreed to gloss over the issue of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in that discussion, according to the Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Kumar Gokhale, who later added that Kashmir and Ladakh “is a matter that concerns the internal affairs of the country”.

Destination -- Aksai Chin

China has raised the issue of Kashmir, including Ladakh more sharply than in the past. And it invited Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and General Qamar Javed Bajwa to Beijing ahead of the Xi's visit to India.

Indian Defence Analyst Rumel Dahiya has said that China has not historically respected Indian sensitivities including over such incidents as the April 2013 Depsang Encampment, the Doklam Stand-off or high-level military exercise just opposite to Ladakh ahead of the then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s Indian visit in April 2005.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army had been conducting massive war games near Indian border ahead of every high profile bilateral talks. They claimed it was their prerogative to hold such exercises in their territory," said Dahiya.

“India is also conducting high war games in its own territory and also allowed visits of foreign dignitaries to border areas. Yes… this is all new assertive approach by India against its eastern neighbour,” he added.

“They will have to deal with this new assertive India from now on,” Dahia, who held deputy director general post for years at government-affiliated think tank Institute for Defence Studies emphasised.

The bigger question now is whether India will include Aksai Chin in border dispute discussions.

The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)- the parent organisation of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - had touched upon the issue ahead of the recent India-China summit after Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said “When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it.”

All this suggests that India may adopt a new resolution to discuss Aksai Chin, a sparsely populated area about the size of Switzerland that is currently under Chinese jurisdiction.

“India is most likely to raise the disputed Aksai Chin very soon as this is the major issue between the two countries which remained untouched for years,” Dahiya added.

Zhao Gancheng, a Chinese researcher with the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, in an article titled “Indian Government is carried away by populism” recently mentioned the Aksai Chin issue. He said that by amending its Constitution, and creating the Union Territory of Ladakh, India has “obviously unilaterally changed the status quo of the disputed boundary in the western sector”.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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