Tuesday, 3 September 2013
India's Defence minister A K Antony said yesterday that his country was “strengthening its capabilities on the border” with China, while at the same time seeking an amicable solution to a boundary conflict that has raged for decades. Speaking in Hindon at the induction ceremony of a new aircraft into the Indian Air Force, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, he stated that the Indian action was in response to Chinese efforts to strengthen their position along the Asian neighbours' 3,500 km border. A joint military exercise is meant to be taking place soon; however a date has not yet been set.
Antony's comments follow a number of confrontations in recent months. In April, Chinese troops crossed into the Ladakh sector of Jammu and Kashmir and pitched tents, only leaving after three weeks and a series of negotiations. Then, on June 17, Chinese troops once again entered Indian territory, specifically the Chumar area of the Ladakh sector, confiscating a surveillance camera which they later returned. In a recent report commissioned by the Prime Minister's Office, it was revealed that Indian troops had been aggressively prevented from patrolling areas of the border region, such as Daulet Beg Oldi and Chumar, by Chinese forces.
India and China relations have been tense and prone to flare-ups since the two fought a border war in 1962. When Britain withdrew as the colonial power and granted independence to India in 1947, it left behind a myopic legacy of clumsily drawn borders between India and its northern neighbours. The area of Kashmir is no exception, and has been the scene of intense conflict between India and Pakistan and, more recently, has seen territorial claims by China with the support of Islamabad, its ally in South Asia. In the last 50 years, New Delhi and Beijing have held 15 rounds of talks in an effort to settle their border dispute, almost to no avail.