Track record of China’s land disputes with neighbours
There is a method in China's attempt to keep border disputes with its neighbours unsettled as it helps it in placing unseemly pressure on opposing countries and then taking benefits out of it, a pattern it has followed for the past several decades.
India and China have held several rounds of military and diplomatic level talks to resolve tension in border areas, especially in eastern Ladakh, where Chinese troops once again tried to change status quo ante by intruding in the South Bank of Pangong Tso on August 29 and 30.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of SCO defence ministers meet in Moscow. But it too remained unsuccessful as China continued to accuse India of violations of the Line of Actual Control. Experts say there is a method to China unsettling a border dispute with its neighbours. It doesn’t accept that the problem lies with its attitude, rather squarely blames others for unfriendly behaviour.
Last week, United States President Donald Trump also said, “China’s aggressive stance along the India-China border fits with a larger a pattern of Chinese aggression in other parts of the world and these action only confirm the true nature of the Chinese Communist Party.”
India-China border dispute
The Galwan Valley faceoff was a result of China illegally occupying 38,000 square kilometers of Indian Territory in the Aksai Chin region apart from its claim on Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. In 1963, another 5,163 sq km of Shaksgam valley was illegally ceded by Pakistan to China making the total Indian territory occupied by China over 43,000 sq km.
However, China has a territorial dispute not only with India but as many as 19 other neighbors. There is a laundry list of countries which are facing China-led aggression on their territory and they include the Philippines, Tajikistan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Mongolia, South Korea, North Korea, Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, Japan, and Indonesia.
The Spratly Island dispute
The Spratly Islands dispute is an ongoing territorial dispute between China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei, which concerns the ownership of the Spratly Islands, a group of islands, and associated maritime features located in the South China Sea.
China claims the southern part of the Spratly Islands chain while Brunei, on the other hand, claims part of the South China Sea nearest to it as part of its continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone.
Furthermore, China and the Philippines also disagree over parts of the South China Sea including the Spratly Islands. The Philippines even took the dispute to the International Court of Justice where they won the case but the Chinese side did not abide by the order of the ICJ.
Malaysia is also a part of the Spratly Islands territorial dispute. China’s claims cover only islands included in its Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 miles as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Malaysia has a military presence on three such islands that it considers being part of the continental shelf.
In 1974, China occupied the Paracel Islands when its troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison occupying the western islands. The country then built a military installation on Woody Island with an airfield and artificial harbor. Taiwan and Vietnam also claim their right over the islands.
With Taiwan, China has border disputes on Macclesfield Bank, Paracel Islands, and Scarborough Shoal as well, apart from the Spratly Island dispute.
China-Nepal border row
There have been reports that China has illegally occupied strategic land at 12 places across Nepal. It has also claimed that some parts of Nepal are part of Tibet and hence part of China.
China-Bhutan territorial dispute
In 2017, tension sparked up between China and Bhutan when senior Bhutanese officials spoke up against Chinese encroachments along the border and asked China to respect the procedure for border settlement that it had itself agreed on with Bhutan. Beijing claims Kula Kangri and mountainous areas to the west of this peak in addition to the western Haa district of Bhutan.
China-Japan border dispute
The story doesn’t end here. China has ongoing border disputes with Japan as well. Japan’s dispute with China is mainly about the South China Sea, particularly the Senkaku Islands, Ryukyu Islands, and the overlapping Air Defence Identification Zone and Exclusive Economic Zone in the East China Sea.
China-Russia border dispute
Despite signing several agreements, China unilaterally claims 160,000 square kilometers territory of Russia. In 2004, the 4,300 sq km border was finally demarcated in its entirety, thus resolving the territorial dispute. The next year, the Russian Parliament ratified the agreement in 2008, a part of the Abagaitu Islet, the entire Tarabarov Bolshoi Ussuriysk Island, and some adjacent river islets were handed over to China.
Other border disputes
North Korea and China have disputes over Mount Paektu and Yalu and Tuman rivers. China has also claimed Baekhu Mountain and Jiandao. Dating back, China has claimed the entire North Korea region on several occasions.
South Korea and China have an overlapping Air Defence Identification Zone and a continuing Exclusive Economic Zone dispute over Leodo in the East China Sea. China has also, on occasions, claimed entire South Korea on historical grounds.
Parts of the South China Sea are contested by Singapore and China, leading to another border dispute.
Thailand and China have had border disputes along the Mekong River since 2001. In a recent development, the Thai Cabinet scrapped a Chinese-led dredging project in February to blast rapids on the Mekong River.
Furthermore, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, and Laos have a history of border disputes with China.