KASHMIR, India is flagged by two countries’ relationship with whom hasn’t been easy. Pakistan and China were always united in their venture against India. But treaties and conventions have maintained the mirage of peace but neither of the parties let go of any opportunity to undermine each other. A recent standoff between China and India in Ladakh could be due to the tension harbored in China regarding Aksai Chin and CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) which passes through Gilgit Baltistan in part.
Aksai Chin- Indo-Sino war of 1962 was triggered over the occupation of Aksai Chin where China had built a highway connecting Tibet and Xinjiang. The construction took 6years and India didn’t approve of it. After the inconclusive Info Sino war, China captured 38000sq.kms. of land that is a Aksai Chin. Aksai Chin is presently one of the most dangerous places because it is the ceasefire line between Jammu and Kashmir and China’s occupied land. It is also known as Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Regarding Aksai Chin, China’s worry has been rekindled due to India discarding Section 370 of the Constitution which gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status and reinstated Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory of India. China has assumed this strategy could change its status regarding Aksai Chin which has Jammu and Kashmir as a border on one side.
“There appears to have been a strategic shift in Chinese thinking after India abrogated Sections of Article 370 last year and created the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. India has always claimed Aksai Chin, but the issue appears have been reinterpreted in China after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked,” says P. Stobdan, former ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.
CPEC- CPEC is a development project to join the Gwadar Port of Pakistan with the northwest region of China, Xinjiang through a network of railways, pipelines, and highways. It passes through the Gilgit Baltistan area which is Pakistan administered northern portion of Kashmir. This whole project had joined the Pakistan and China into a strong brotherhood against India. The project is expected to boost Pakistan’s economy and is equally important to China.
“Pakistan has become exceptionally important to China as CPEC – which gives access to Gwadar port and helps Beijing reduce its vulnerability on the Americans who dominate Malacca Strait – is the gateway governing China’s international trade. The CPEC has imparted game-changing strategic ballast to the Sino-Pak relationship.” Mr. Stobdan added.
Due to the declaration on 5th August regarding Jammu and Kashmir being a Union Territory of India which includes PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, on the Corridor’s route.
While speaking in Lok Sabha, Home Minister, Amit Shah added, “Kashmir is an integral part of India, there is no doubt over it. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and Aksai Chin are included in it.”
His words are backed by two unanimously backed resolutions, one passed on 14th November 1962 and the other in February 1994 that gave India the right to claim areas including Aksai Chin that China has occupied and that every area that Pakistan has wrongfully captured in Kashmir must be returned to India, respectively.
The current status quo of the Jammu and Kashmir threatens China on both fronts.
India’s growing friendship with the US has threatened China. The rising worry in China also made her President, Xi Jinping to propose a trilateral bond among India, Pakistan, and China without any outside influence, implying the relation of India with the US.
Beijing had very visibly sided with Islamabad putting forward UN resolutions to solve the Kashmir issue. China’s Foreign Minister cited India’s move to be “unacceptable” Last year when India’s External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar visited China he was asked by his Chinese counterpart regarding Aksai Chin and rising tension between India and Pakistan due to India’s decision. Jaishankar cited the abrogation of Article 370 “did not impact the Line of Control (LOC). There was no implication for the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, India was not raising any additional territorial claims. The Chinese concerns in this regard were misplaced.”
All these worrisome facts point towards a standoff between India and China in Ladakh and also a deeper bond developing between China and Pakistan.