Arunachal Pradesh: The Region Sparking Tensions Between India, China, and the US

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The US has made it clear; they see Arunachal Pradesh as part of India and are “strongly against” any one-sided efforts to push territorial claims on the northeastern Indian state, which has got a border with China that’s not too well marked.

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For a long time, India’s been insisting that the state is a core part of the country, even though China thinks Arunachal Pradesh is part of what they call southern Tibet.

The recent tension over the border got heated when the Indian PM, Narendra Modi, went ahead and opened a tunnel on the 9th of March in Arunachal Pradesh, sitting at an elevation of 13,000ft (3962m). The Sela Tunnel is supposed to make sure there’s a way to get through to the Tawang area in the state, which holds strategic importance, all year round. And they’re thinking it’ll help move troops around easier in that part.

It’s also part of India’s plan to strengthen its defense along the unofficial 3,500km border with China, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

China’s defense ministry wasn’t too happy about the tunnel opening and said India should “stop doing things that complicate the border situation and really try to keep the peace and stability along the border.”

Defense Ministry spokesperson, Colonel Zhang Xiaogang, said that opening the tunnel in what they call Zangnan – runs against the efforts from both countries to chill the border situation out.


India’s been quick to clap back at China. “Just saying the same old baseless stuff doesn’t make it any more true,” said Randhir Jaiswal, a spokesperson for India’s Foreign Ministry.

On Wednesday, Vedant Patel, the main man speaking for the US State Department, told reporters: “We’re totally against any kind of one-sided moves to claim territory – whether it’s military folks or civilians – across the Line of Actual Control.”

As things got more tense, China really didn’t like the US’s take on the disputed region. “We’ve never finished marking the boundary between China and India,” said Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry.

The two countries with nukes have a border of about 3,000km (roughly 1,860miles) that’s mostly not clear. The Crisis Group says that this border in the Himalayas is the “longest argued over border in the world.”

They’ve been caught up in this boundary mess for ages, which even led to a war in 1962 that didn’t go well for India. In some fights that broke out along their border in the western Himalayas in 2020 – the first in a long time — at least 20 Indian soldiers and 4 Chinese soldiers died.

Then, in January 2021, there was another clash that hurt soldiers on both sides. This happened near Sikkim in India, which is right between Bhutan and Nepal.

What’s more, India and China don’t even agree on how long the Line of Actual Control is: India says it’s 3,488km, but China says just 2,000km, notes the Crisis Group.

Lately, China’s been putting out new maps that claim places like Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau, both of which India says are theirs, stirring up the border trouble again. India’s made it official how much they don’t agree with these claims, with their external affairs minister S Jaishankar brushing off China’s one-sided land grabs.

This border fight goes way back to colonial times, and it’s not just a problem for these two countries; it affects regional peace, international relations, and the whole world’s power plays, people watching this say.

You can see a Buddha statue in Tawang near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is next to China, in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh on October 20, 2021

The Line of Actual Control between India and China is split into three parts: the west, middle, and east, and there’s a lot of arguing about where exactly it is, especially at the far ends.

In the western part, China’s got control of Aksai Chin (38,000 sq km), which India says is part of Ladakh. The eastern part goes from the India-Bhutan-China junction to the India-China-Myanmar junction, covering Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Here, India’s sticking to the McMahon Line from the 1914 Tibet-British India Simla Convention, which China doesn’t agree with because they say Tibet wasn’t really able to make decisions back then.

Even though Beijing informally respects the McMahon Line as the LAC, it says about 90,000 sq km in Arunachal Pradesh is Tibetan land. The middle part, which people don’t fight over as much, is across from Tibet, with Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand on India’s sideIt seems there has been a misunderstanding.

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