India China Border Dispute - The Nepal Angle
With the outbreak of Coronavirus (Chinese Virus or Wuhan Virus), which originated in China, there has been a rise in anti-Chinese emotions around the world. Countries like the USA, UK, Australia started demanding an open investigation in the Wuhan Institute of Virology which was rejected by China and later China also threatened Australia with the economic sanctions if they did not stop demanding for the investigations. In the World Health Association (WHA) meeting, 62 countries voted in support of the independent investigation proposal which increased the troubles for China.
There are major economic issues ahead of China with various American, Japanese and Korean companies wanting to exit China and shift their manufacturing base to some other country. Recently, with the US being badly hit by COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump threatened various American companies with tax tariffs, if they did not shift their manufacturing base in America and create more jobs for the American citizens.
To distract the world from the coronavirus investigation, China reportedly has started creating major issues in geopolitics like Pratas Island issue which China wants to annexe from Taiwan; thuggish behaviour in the South China sea and hate-mongering against Vietnam and Indonesia, the new law to suppress the protests in Hong Kong and border standoff with India are to name a few to begin with.
India and China share a long boundary of 3488 km. China on various occasions has created various theories to create disputes on these borders. Out of the very famous one was the ‘Doklam standoff,’ which was a major event in geopolitics and was later solved with various rounds of talks.
The recent dispute in the Galwan Valley started when Chinese soldiers came 3 km inside the Indian side of the LAC. There were reports of some little skirmishes also. India claims the Aksai Chin area which is controlled by China. According to the reports, more than a thousand Chinese troops have entered the Indian territory near Pangong Lake. India also claims various “finger areas” near Pangong Lake which are under Chinese occupation.
Trump in an attempt to mediate between India and China which was rejected by both the countries. In a very recent move, China has also warned India that they shall not interfere in the ongoing cold war between China and the USA; if they did, it would lead to major repercussions, which India—already hit badly by COVID-19 will not be able to bear.
To top it all, China has also been using the Nepal Communist Party government in China to further their anti-India agenda with various moves. In a major geopolitical move, China actively saved the communist government in Nepal, where the Chinese envoy Hou Yanqui managed the whole Nepali politics and saved the Nepali Communist Party from disintegrating into various factions. Before the Chinese management, Nepali politics was destabilised and various chances of the fresh election were there.
Post this event, the frequency of anti-India statements from the members of the Nepal Communist Party increased and a new low in the India Nepal relations. Very recently after India constructed a road to ease the travelling of pilgrims to the Kailash Mansarovar, Nepal commented on the construction and referred to it as Indian encroachment of Nepali territories. In reply of which Indian Army Chief, General Manoj Mukund Narwane accused Nepal of “Acting on the behest of someone”, translating to Nepal acting as a Chinese puppet. Nepali Foreign minister said that this unprofessional comment by the Indian Army Chief is an insult of Gurkha soldiers and the history of Nepal.
With increasing Chinese influence in the internal matters of Nepal, the latter is emerging as a security threat to India. In June 2019, the Chinese language was made compulsory by the Nepali Authorities in the educational institutions. An interesting fact was that China offered to pay the teachers teaching the Chinese language. In a very controversial move, Nepal released a new map of their country which showed various Indian territories as Nepali territories. Although, the map is yet to be approved by the Nepali Parliament.
The major concern for the India-Nepal border issue is the origin of the Mahakali river which was decided as the border of British India and the Kingdom of Nepal after the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816. This was because there is more than one stream which forms the river and both the nations recognise different streams as the border. Nepal has also said that they will deploy more forces on the India border and will create more posts to monitor any illegal construction by the Indian authorities in future.