US President Donald Trump in a tweet on Wednesday offered to mediate on Ladakh in what he called a “raging” border showdown between India and China in the Himalayas. The India China border dispute at Ladakh is an ongoing issue for the two countries, that are currently at odds with one another.
Trump’s offer came after Indian defence sources said hundreds of Chinese troops had moved into a disputed zone along their 3,500 kilometre-long (2,200 mile) frontier.
India China border dispute at Ladakh
There have been numerous face-offs and brawls between Chinese and Indian soldiers, including one near the northwest Indian region of Ladakh captured on video in 2017, where troops were seen throwing punches and stones.
More recently, an Indian patrol party of the Indo-Tibetan border police (ITBP) were detained and later released by Chinese forces after a scuffle broke out between the Indian and Chinese border troops.
Read more: Ladakh: India-China troops face off again
Two weeks ago several Indian and Chinese troops were hurt during fistfights and stone-throwing in another sector. There has been no violence reported since, however.
While blaming each other for the flare-up, the world’s two most populous countries have stressed the need to negotiate a settlement to the latest dispute along their tortuous border.
Trump tweets to mediate over Ladakh dispute between China and India
Trump, who has sought closer ties with India in recent years while also being involved in a tense trade showdown with China. President Trump made his public offer in a Tweet where he offered to mediate over the Ladakh border dispute.
“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!” he said.
Last year Trump offered to mediate between India and Pakistan over their Kashmir dispute, but it was tersely rejected by India.
Alice Wells, the the top US State Department official for South Asia, said last week that China was seeking to upset the regional balance and had to be “resisted”.
If tensions continue to escalate, the dispute between China and the US could morph into a damaging conflict that not only weakens the world’s recovery from Covid-19, but also risks slowing important technological innovations.
Even before the pandemic, economists and experts warned that a worsening relationship between the two countries could stifle the development of artificial intelligence and super-fast 5G mobile networks. Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said in January that losing the ability to cooperate on such advancements would be bad for the world.
Historical context of the India China border dispute
India and China fought a war over India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962. China still claims some 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 square miles) of territory under New Delhi’s control.
While no shot has been fired across their border for more than four decades, there have been numerous face-offs. In 2017 there was a 72-day showdown after Chinese forces moved into the disputed Doklam plateau on the China-India-Bhutan border.
Punches and stones were thrown this month at Naku La in India’s Sikkim state, which borders Bhutan, Nepal and China, before “dialogue and interaction” calmed tempers.
The focus has since moved to the Ladakh region across the border from Tibet. Indian defence sources allege Chinese forces have moved into Indian territory at four points.
The sources said hundreds of Chinese troops and vehicles have taken over the Indian side of the Galwan valley, one of the four disputed sites.
The latest China-Indian border conflict comes after India opened a new all-weather access point in late April in Arunachal Pradesh in India’s remote northeast, a region also claimed by China, to enable faster movement of troops and artillery.
Diplomatic relations between India and China
Diplomatic and military observers said both sides seemed to be digging in for another long face-off.
Their rival foreign ministries have denied any fault but called for established negotiating channels to be used.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping have sought to ease the tensions at summits over the past two years when they agreed to boost border communications between their militaries, such as the one at Chennai in October 2019.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk