China’s aggressions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh remind me of China’s way of dealing with India in the 1950s and 1960s. Behind the India-China bonhomie of those days, China quietly took possession of a large area in north-eastern Ladakh, and built a road across it to connect its two recently-conquered alien territories, Xinjiang and Tibet.
The area is an integral part of the territories of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Never before had China ruled that region; so it published new maps to justify its occupation of Aksai Chin. It was the first stab in its friend Jawaharlal Nehru’s back. In 1960, when the two countries were still talking peace Chairman Mao Zedong ordered his army to prepare for a major invasion of India. Which, in October 1962, again, caught India unprepared. India’s economic progress was interrupted and Nehru’s prestige hurt in India and in the world.
Following that unexpected attack, the India-China relationship lay in tatters for several decades. A whiff of warmth entered their contacts in the 1980s, and, in 1993, the two countries signed an agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity on LAC. In 1996, another agreement laid down a number of confidence-building measures to be followed by Chinese and Indian forces to “maintain restraint, avoid opening fire, strengthen exchanges and cooperation to prevent any escalations of tensions”.
While there were sporadic intrusions, including at Depsang, a serious incident occurred at LAC when Narendra Modi took over as prime minister (PM), with an attack at Chumar. President Xi Jinping’s first visit to India in September 2014 was accompanied by a major intrusion in Ladakh.