With the recent border clash of India and China in the Galwan Valley, Aksai Chin is in news a lot. Recently, Chinese media has accused India of building defence facilities in the Galwan Valley region of the contested Aksai Chin area. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday that his government has given the armed forces full freedom to take any necessary action, and he also appeared to downplay the clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers and injured more than 70 on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan Valley on Monday.
Aksai Chin is a disputed border area between China and India since 1950s. China controls Aksai Chin area, while India claims that it is part of Indian territory (Union territory of Ladakh). During the time of British rule in India, two borders between India and China were proposed- Johnson’s Line and McDonald Line. The Johnson’s line (proposed in 1865) shows Aksai Chin in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir (now Ladakh) i.e. under India’s control whereas McDonald Line (proposed in 1893) places it under China’s control. India considers Johnson Line as a correct, rightful national border with China. On the other hand, China considers the McDonald Line as the correct border with India. At present, Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the line separating Indian areas of Ladakh from Aksai Chin. It is concurrent with the Chinese Aksai Chin claim line.
Aksai region is the bone of contention between India and China since 1950. The area of Aksai Chin was neglected for a long time due to barren, isolated and mostly uninhabitable region. Earlier, Nehru had said: “There is a large area in eastern and north-eastern Ladakh which is practically uninhabite“Where not even a blade of grass grows,” he had said famously. In the 1950s the Chinese built a military road through this region in order to connect Tibet with Xinjiang. India objected this new development which led to border clashes between the two countries in 1962. In 1993 and 1996, both countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control. At the conclusion of the war, China retained control of about 38,000 square km of territory in Aksai Chin. The area remained a point of contention between the two countries till now.