by Akanksha Chhabra
Galwan Valley became a flash point on June 15, when a violent brawl broke out between Indian and Chinese soldiers. 20 Indian soldiers, including the Commanding Officer of 16th Bihar Regiment, were martyred in the incident, while 35 Chinese soldiers were either killed or injured. The incident took place at a time when the soldiers of both sides are locked in a tense standoff with each other.
India and China share a border that's quite 3,440km (2,100 miles) long and have overlapping territorial claims. From past one month, Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in a tense stand-off at three points along the Line of Actual Control — the Galwan River Valley, Hot Springs area and the Pangong Lake since early May.
China has been acting in contradiction to its agreements with India to vary the established order and challenge Indian troops at the border, hoped that Beijing will reduce on their excessive weaponry and infrastructure at the road of Actual Control. The world is expressing their condolences for the lives lost in the Galwan Valley whereas china seems to have no regrets.
Today China has clearly pushed beyond where that they had reached in 1962 and trying to maneuver before the bend and also come closer to the River Shyok. China in plain terms wants to say control over the areas it had advanced and also withdrawn in 1962. The present India- China border dispute may be a dispute on the identity of territory. Because, the question is that the identification of the international border between India and China supported historical material on who had exercised sovereign control over the territory at a relevant time.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GALWAN VALLEY
India and China are locked in an intense stand-off with their powerful militaries in an eyeball-to eyeball confrontation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. The latest clashes between the two neighbors have mainly taken place along the Galwan Valley in Ladakh (recently upgraded to a Union Territory after India scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir).
The Galwan Valley, located in eastern Ladakh, is a strategic area which gets its name from Galwan river that originates from the Aksai Chin region and joins the Shyok river. It is close to the vital road link to Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), the world’s highest landing ground next to the LAC and serves as an important aerial supply line.
PROBABLE CAUSES OF THE CLASH
India and China, the two military superpowers have been on the boil for decades over territory in the high-altitude mountainous terrain which is mostly uninhabited. In recent times, the tension has further flared up due to a new road India built in Ladakh, along the Line of Actual Control which divides the sides. Arguably, this annoyed China, which deployed troops and built the infrastructure of its own in the disputed territory. The result was rising tempers and the risk of imminent clashes between the troops of the two sides. Though uninhibited, both India and China consider this area as strategically important and vital for security.
The present situation is serious, very serious because the loss of lives at such a level is first in 45 years in the border conflict between India and China. No doubt that the observation by former Indian Army Commander, D.S.Hooda that this is extremely, extremely serious and may vitiate whatever dialogue was going on, assume significance. Lt. Gen H.S.Panag (Retd) observed in The Print that “It is a national shame that one Colonel and 19 soldiers have been killed in action while many more injured in a “fist and club” non-military action with the Chinese PLA in the Galwan River Valley”. There are unconfirmed reports of 43 PLA casualties.
Ironically, it was at Galwan River Valley, 80 km upstream from the current Line of Actual Control (LAC), near Samzungling, that a military confrontation took place before the 1962 war on 4 July when a platoon of 1/8 Gorkha Rifles was surrounded by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The post remained under siege thereafter and was maintained by Mi 4 helicopters. A company of 5 Jat was inducted by helicopters from 4-12 October to relieve this platoon. On 20 October, this company fought a heroic action at the Galwan post with 36 out of the total 68 soldiers being killed in action. The writing for the latest tragedy was on the wall. Beginning April end, the PLA had intruded at multiple points across the LAC in Eastern Ladakh with a clear strategic intent to trigger a border incident to impose China’s hegemony on India and stop further development of border infrastructure in sensitive areas, which threaten Aksai Chin.
THE CONCEPT OF INTERNATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
It remains true today that a breach of international law must be objectively ascertained, without having regard to the reasons which might have motivated its author (at least, so long as the rule violated do es not itself require that the act in question has been committed with a certain state of mind, as is the case, for example, with genocide or crimes against humanity). However, on the other hand, the very notion of responsibility has been drastically modified as a result of a tripartite evolution, which reflects that of international law itself:
• it is no longer reserved only to States, and has become an attribution of the international Jegal personality of other subjects of international law;
• it has lost its conceptual unity as a result of the elimination of damage as a condition for the engagement of responsibility for breach, since
• the common point of departure which it shared with liability for acts not involving a breach of international law has disappeared.
The two sides reportedly had no firearms, according to longstanding protocols for the two militaries along the Line of Actual Control, the boundary drawn after the 1962 war to keep them apart. Among those killed was the Indian commander, Col. Bikkumalla Santosh Babu, whose death appeared to spark a larger fight along a steep ridge, which continued into the second day morning. The officials said several Indians died after falling from the ridge in the dark or intentionally jumping into the Galwan River. India initially announced the deaths of only three soldiers on the other hand the toll rose by 17, whose deaths were attributed to “environmental conditions” at the high altitude.
China pledged later to avoid a broader conflict, but its secretary of state , Wang Yi, accused India of provoking the clash on June 15 Monday night, despite an earlier agreement to withdraw forces from the Galwan Valley, a remote area straddling the disputed frontier that has been the focus of fighting before, including a war between India and China in 1962. The timing of skirmishes is all the most ill ominous as both the countries are dealing with the coronavirus, which is still spreading in India while China tries to contain a new outbreak in Beijing. The economies of both countries are weakened and vulnerable.
On the economic front, tensions have been prevailing since last few months. It was in April, 2020 that the Union Minister for MSME and RT&H, Nitin Gadkari emphasised that there is also need to focus on import substitution to replace foreign imports with domestic production. He also urged enterprises to form use of technology and mentioned that Research, innovation and quality improvement can play a serious role in industrial development. He was addressing meetings held today via video conferencing with the representatives of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), India SME Forum (ISF) and other enterprises from various sectors from Nagpur.
As the lockdown eases out and focus shifts to increasing economic activity, revival of the sector for large scale employment generation and leading the way for sustained economic growth becomes imminent. Regarding the revival of MSME sector, Minister mentioned that industry should lay special focus towards export enhancement and necessary practices be adopted to reduce Power cost, Logistics cost and Production cost to become competitive within the global market.
India and China are expected in law of nations to cooperate and resolve the pestering differences within the interest of peace and their mutual economic interests. No doubt, within the negotiated settlement, the resolution of border disputes within the 21st century are going to be coloured by geopolitical considerations. The trade relations between India and China within the expanding technological market do play a task . China cannot be oblivious to the fact that the trade surplus in its favour in the last couple of years is about $ 50 to 60 billion. China cannot ignore the hostility round the globe for its alleged role within the spreading of Covid-19 killing thousands of individuals .