The Ghost Of Article 370 Haunts India Through China’s Month-Long Standoff In Ladakh

Report By: Nandika Chand | Last Updated June 13, 2020

The Centre-led by the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) special status, Article 370 as part of its election promise as well as to spread its Hindutva and nationalist propaganda. The abrogation of the conflicted state’s special status, in August 5 of 2019, also had to do with China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). However, India has maintained that Article 370 was a domestic-internal matter and part of the country’s constitution.

However, after eight months, the “ghost of Article 370 has come to haunt India through China’s month-long (May) standoff in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The standoff centered around the Galwan Valley and the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh which controls access to several strategic points on their Himalayan border. Chinese troops had entered into the Indian territory at three different points. They had erected tents, guard posts and deployed heavy artillery prompting New Delhi to take notice. Indian analysts attributed China’s actions to border construction activities and road building.

But it seems to be more than just inroads. In August 2019, Beijing had been very vocal on the Kashmir issue involving India and Pakistan. It called on New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve the Kashmir issue bilaterally. Beijing also said India was “undermining China’s territorial sovereignty. It even called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to hold a closed-door informal meeting on the issue. China’s diplomat in Pakistan, Wang Xianfeng has added to speculations that India’s actions of unilaterally changing the status quo of Kashmir and continuing to exacerbate regional tensions have posed a challenge to the sovereignty of China and Pakistan. He said this has made India-Pakistan relations and China-India relations more complex.

Dr Wang Shida, of Chinese think tank – China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) in a report ‘India Blinded By Double Confidence’ has outlined China’s stance in the region after India abrogated Article 370. He said India forced China into the Kashmir dispute by opening up new territory on the Indian map. “Incorporated part of the areas under the local jurisdiction of Xinjiang and Tibet into its Ladakh union territory, and placed Pakistan’s Kashmir within its so-called union territories of Jammu and Kashmir,” he explained. “This stimulated China and Pakistan to take counter-actions on the Kashmir issue.”

Dr Wang said India’s moves challenged China’s soverignity rights and interests and violated the agreement on maintaining peace and tranquility in the border areas between Beijing and New Delhi. “India’s moves will have no effect on the Chinese side, nor will they change the fact that China exercises sovereignty over relevant territories,” he said. “Secondly, India used ‘domestic legislation’ to deny the UN’s designation of Kashmir as a disputed region.”

UN initiated active mediation following the 1947 war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and adopted resolutions 38, 39, 47 and 51, as well as other resolutions in 1948. India cannot deny the ground reality that ‘Kashmir is not a domestic issue’. And New Delhi cannot overlook the fact that ‘UN still recognises Kashmir as a region with undetermined status’; Kashmir is also recognised by the international community as a ‘disputed territory’. The overall status quo has not been change by domestic legislation. China stands with Kashmir issue being ‘settled properly in a peaceful manner in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements’.

Furthermore, Dr Wang said the arbitrary manner in which the Indian government have coped with a series of major issues including territorial disputes in recent years, reveals that Hindu nationalism is prevalent in India.

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