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16th March 2023 (7 Topics)

McMohan Line and US Senate resolution

Context

Two United States Senators, have introduced a bipartisan resolution in the upper chamber of Congress reiterating that they recognises the ‘McMahon Line’ as the international boundary between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh.

About the US Senate call:

  • The resolution reaffirms India’s well-known and established position that Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls ‘South Tibet’, is an integral part of India.
  • The Senate has shown support as unequivocally recognising the state of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India, condemning China’s military aggression to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control.
  • It is further seen as enhancing the US-India strategic partnership and the Quad in support of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

What is the McMahon Line?

    • The McMahon Line serves as the de facto boundary between China and India in the Eastern Sector
    • It specifically represents the boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet, from Bhutan in the west to Myanmar in the east.
  • China has historically disputed the boundary and claims the state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

How was McMohan line drawn?

  • The McMahon Line was drawn during the Simla Convention of 1914, officially described as the Convention between Great Britain, China, and Tibet
  • The McMahon Line delimited the respective spheres of influence of Tibet and British India in the eastern Himalayan region.
  • The border in this region was undefined prior to the signing of the convention.

Simla Convention of 1913-14:

  • The convention attempted to settle the question of Tibet’s sovereignty and avoid further territorial disputes in the region.
  • The treaty divided the Buddhist region into “Outer Tibet” and “Inner Tibet”.
    • The former would remain in the hands of the Tibetan Government at Lhasa under Chinese suzerainty, though China was not allowed to interfere in its affairs.
  • Later on, British government has signed the treaty with Lhasa government for Tibet Autonomous region.
  • China’s refusal to recognize the Simla Accord as a legally binding treaty primarily stems from this very reason. 
    • The fact that no Chinese Central Government ever ratified the treaty also features as one of the objections.

McMohan line vs. Line of Actual Control (LAC):

McMohan line

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • The 890-km McMahon Line separating British India and Tibet was drawn by Sir Henry McMahon at the China-Tibet-Britain Simla Convention (1914).
  • The line marked out previously unclaimed/undefined borders between Britain and Tibet. 
  • Also, the Line put Tawang (a region of the present Arunachal Pradesh) in the British Empire.
  • The line was forgotten until the British government published the documents in 1937. Subsequently, China refused to accept the line
  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the effective border between India and China.
  • LAC was supposed to divide areas under Indian and Chinese control since the end of the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
  • Unlike the LoC (between India and Pakistan), the LAC was not mutually agreed upon. This was because the war ended with a unilateral ceasefire by China.

Current Areas of a dispute between India & China:

  • In the Western sector: Here India shares a 2152 km long border with China, and territorial disputes over the Aksai Chin region of Jammu and Kashmir, with both countries claiming the region as their own.
  • In the middle sector: Here India roughly shares about a 625 km long boundary with China with a few minor disputes regarding Tibet.
  • In the Eastern Sector: The major dispute here is around the region of Tawang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh, Chumbi Valley (Dokalam Tri-Junction) which India shares with Bhutan.

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