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Explained: Why Is China's New National Map Controversial, How Does China Claim Indian Territories In Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh?

The Government of India has rejected the Chinese claims in the map 'as they have no basis' and said such actions only complicate the resolution of boundary disputes.

China's new map showing parts of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh as its own.
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China on Monday released its official map that shows parts of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese territories. 

The Chinese map also showed the contested South China Sea and self-governing island of Taiwan as its own territory.

The map is the latest assertion of Chinese territorial claims that extend from the Ladakh region in the West to the South China Sea in the East and the whole of Taiwan, which China considers to be a breakaway province. 

Here we explain what claims China has made in tha map with regard to India and elsewhere and how China makes these claims. 

China claims Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh in latest map

In the 2023 edition of the Standard Map of China published on Monday, China claimed part of Ladakh called Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh as its own. 

China has illegally occupied Aksai China, a territory in the far-east of Ladakh union territory (UT), since 1950-60s. As for Arunachal, China has claimed the state as its own over the decades.

The Government of India has repeatedly stated that both the regions are part of India and will always be part of India. 

While China nibbled parts of Aksai Chin region through the 1950s, as India did not have full-fledged military presence in the region to consolidate its hold, Chinese control of the region solidified after the India-China War of 1962 that India lost. 

"Most of it is in occupation of China, which captured the region during 1950s and consolidated its military grip over the area during the 1962 India-China war, rejecting all Indian attempts to settle border disputes peacefully...China occupied Aksai Chin claiming that it was part of ancient and medieval Chinese empire. It is a convenient claim from an era when boundaries did not have the same sanctity as they do in the times of nation-states," noted Prabhash K Dutta in India Today. 

What's the basis of Chinese claims on Ladakh, Arunachal?

The Chinese claim of Aksai Chin and other territories of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh is rooted in the historic claims of Tibet. As per the Chinese, since Tibet belongs to China, Tibet's territorial claims over Ladakh and Arunachal also belong to China. 

In 1959, the then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had informed the Parliament that shortly after Independence in 1947, the Tibetan government had pressed its territorial claims.

Nehru told Lok Sabha in 1959: "It is true that we received a telegram from the Tibetan bureau in Lhasa, which was forwarded to us by our Mission in Lhasa, claiming the return of Tibetan territory on the boundary of India and Tibet. A reply was sent by us demanding the assurance that it was the intention of the Tibetan government to continue relations on the existing basis until new agreements were reached on matters that either party might wish to take."

While China stakes claim over Ladakh as it considers it part of western part of Tibet, it considers Arunachal part of the southern Tibet. The Buddhist monastery at Tawang in Arunachal is key to that claim.

"The larger Tibetan perspective has been that the Tawang monastery is an integral part of the Tibetan Gelug theocratic institution; hence, it can never be parted from Tibet...In effect, Lhasa continued to exert full spiritual and temporal authority over Monyul [Tawang], and British India could do little to enforce the Simla Convention till 1938," notes Phunchok Stobdan in his book The Great Game in the Buddhist Himalayas: India and China's Quest for Strategic Dominance. 

These claims have no basis: Indian govt

The Government of India on Tuesday rejected the Chinese claims in the map "as they have no basis". 

Notably, the publication of the map comes shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met and agreed for "expeditious de-escalation" of the miltary standoff in Eastern Ladakh that's ongoing since early 2020. 

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "We have today lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the Chinese side on the so called 2023 "standard map” of China that lays claim to India’s territory. We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the boundary question."

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