In 1965, three years after the first Indo-Chinese war, then Jan Sangh leader, 42-year-old Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in a brilliant piece of statesmanship, had driven a flock of 800 sheep to the Chinese embassy in Delhi. It was to protest against the Chinese claim that India had stolen 800 Chinese sheep and some two score yaks from across the border.
This humorous gesture of Vajpayee on the ludicrous charge had incensed China. The sheep carried placards around their neck, ‘Eat me, but save the world’. The Lal Bahadur Shastri government was blamed for this gimmick but the government dismissed, calling itself unassociated with the event.
The India-China relations have always gone through ups and downs for the last 65 years. On one pretext or the other, China has always tried to enter the Indian boundaries and raise a racket. Sometimes, it is Sikkim or Arunachal which is used as a ruse, or at other times it is Ladakh or the region around it.
China relegates and denies official agreements of the past and the map demarcations as set by the political history of the region. China brings up some old traditional map and tries to hold it has a valid document to leverage its expansionist plans. Though, the expansionist motto of China is clear before the world now and all the major powers of the world have castigated it for disturbing the status quo with India.
After the first Indo-China armed conflict in 1962, there was yet another major offensive in 1967 over the actual line of control. Conflict situations again rose in 1987 and 2013, but they were deescalated.
A conflict involving a Bhutanese-controlled area on the border between Bhutan and China was successfully de-escalated in 2017 following injuries to both Indian and Chinese troops. Multiple brawls broke out in 2020, escalating to dozens of deaths in June 2020.
At the time, both countries claimed incursions as much as a kilometre at the northern tip of Sikkim. In 2009, India announced it would deploy additional military forces along the border. In 2014, India proposed China should acknowledge a “One India” policy to resolve the border dispute.
During the 1950s, the People’s Republic of China built a 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) road connecting Xinjiang and western Tibet, of which 179 kilometres (111 mi) ran south of the Johnson Line through the Aksai Chin region claimed by India. This led to the first contention with the border as it claimed its own area. For the Chinese, on that side of the Karakoram Range, it was easy to access Aksai Chin, but for India, it was difficult as the mountain proved a barrier. China took advantage of this geographical position and silently annexed Aksai Chin, without India knowing anything about its position.
Nehru had a vision of a resurgent Asia which he wanted to share with China and trusted it, which formed his nemesis. He proved to be gullible and China breached the trust by proving that territory was always more important to it than any friendship and the interests of India were inimical to its plans.
India has always been a professedly peaceful and democratic nation and has never adopted any aggressive policy at exceeding its boundaries. This only strengthens India’s position and enhances her clout in the comity of nations ganging up diplomatically and strategically against China.