The Conflict Between India & China Regarding Line of Actual Control & It’s Legal Implication

This blog is inscribed by Stuti Jain.

The issue between India and China, Explained:

What is the Line of Actual Control (LAC)?

Just like India has a Line of Control (LOC) between itself and Pakistan. It has LAC i.e. Line of actual control between itself and China. The difference is that the LOC is clearly demarcated between India and Pakistan. But LAC doesn’t have a clear demarcation regarding the LAC. From a long time. India presumes LAC at some other point of the map, whereas China assumes LAC to lie somewhere else, hence India and China both disagree that where is the actual LAC. [1]

Representational diagram of overlapping claims between Indian and China, created by differing perceptions of the border

As explained in the Diagram Above, the blue area is a definite Indian area, whereas, the orange area is Chinese area. However, India presumes it’s LAC to be till the blue line, and Chinese claims the LAC to be the one shown as the red line. The clashing area between the two countries is this Grey area the “Overlapping Claims” area.  This is what the “status -quo” was. However, China has unilaterally tried to change the status quo and intrude into the “grey Area”. In this particular grey area, the military of both the countries Patrol the area time to time, due to which little clashes used to take place between both the countries, However not as serious as the current one.  In recent years, Indian troops ⁠— supported by better infrastructure and equipments ⁠— have stepped up the frequency of their patrolling. As a result, confrontations with their Chinese counterparts have begun to occur with increased regularity.[2]

What’s happening?

In early month of May, Chinese troops increased its army force along LAC in eastern Ladakh. Initially, the troops were not as many, however, with time, the number of military forces increased. Over 6000 soldiers were stationed along with the tanks, heavy vehicles and artillery.

Currently, China has intruded in 3 parts of Ladakh, namely: the Galwan river valley, the “Hot Springs” near Kongka Pass, and Pangong Tso. Hence forcing the Indian counterpart to enhance its presence to deter the Chinese

Chinese claims:

Apparently, India constructed a road called Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) Road in Ladakh, which provides access to Depsang plain, Galwan valley and Karakoram Pass. China, not only in Ladakh but also in other parts of India, Like Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, has raised objection regarding the road construction.

Moreover, Various statements issued by the Chinese Government in response to the Ladakh conflict, blaming India for the transgression. Such statements stated that the Galway valley is located in China and not in Indian territory. Also, China blames Indian Troops to unilaterally build roads, bridges at LAC. China has blamed India for continuous provocations by changing the status quo of the area. These statements came from Zhao, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department

Also, according to Chinese military, Indian troops crossed the LAC to build the barricades and fortification, due to which Chinese military took necessary action. [3]

Various treaties/ conventions signed between India and China regarding “peace” on LAC;

1)Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas [4]

Aim of this agreement was to keep between both parties of LAC. And stated that no activities will be done by either side of LAC to overstep one another. If such activity takes place, then, such party shall withdraw on being cautioned by another side. Also, each party’s military must be friendly to each other with a minimum level of conflict.

2) Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas [5]

November 29, 1996 (New Delhi)

It reaffirmed that peace and tranquillity alongside LAC is in interest of both India and China. It further reaffirmed that use of threat and force shouldn’t be used by either of the parties.

3) Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation Between the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China, signed on June 23, 2003[6]

Safeguards under international Laws:

1)    UN Charter:

The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.[7]

2)    Principle of pacta sunt servanda/ Good faith:

·      All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.[8]

·      Furthermore, the elaboration of this particular principle is explained in the several other Resolutions by UN for example:

All States shall pursue in good faith negotiations for the early conclusion of a universal treaty on general and complete disarmament under effective international control and strive to adopt appropriate measures to reduce international tensions and strengthen confidence among States.[9]

Hence, the law of treaties (i.e., the agreements between the two states) rests inexorably upon the principle of Good faith

Precedents set by International Court Of justice

1)    Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria (Cameroon v. Nigeria: Equatorial Guinea intervening)[10]

In this particular case, Cameroon accused Nigeria for an aggression, whose troops were occupying several Cameroonian localities, and asked the Court, inter alia, to adjudge and declare that sovereignty over that particular area, by virtue of international law. In its Judgment the ICJ requested Nigeria, expeditiously and without condition, to withdraw its military or police forces from the area of the area falling within Cameroonian sovereignty. It also requested Cameroon expeditiously and without condition to withdraw any administration or military or police forces which might be present.

2)    US intervention in Nicaragua ( Nicaragua v. US)

In this particular case, Nicaragua filed a case against USA in ICJ, claiming that USA was waging war against Nicaragua by sending Contras in the area. Moreover, they mined the 3 main sea ports, thereby damaging ships. ICJ held that Right to sovereignty and political independence possessed by Nicaragua should be fully respected and shouldn’t be jeopardized by any military activities, which is prohibited by international law.[11]

Consensus between the two countries

Indian and Chinese army came to a consensus to disengage the troops from all the points of Eastern Ladakh mutually. This decision came on 22 June 2020, after approximately 11 hours of meeting between Indian and Chinese commanders

Also, India has demanded the reinforcement of the status quo i.e., the position before May 5, 2020[12].


The dispute between India and China isn’t something very recent. There has been several attempts by China in previous years to Intrude into the “grey area”, however, these minute disputes didn’t gain much of the media’s attention. But, the very recent intrusion by Chinese counterpart is considered to be a serious threat, since, the Chinese used “armed forces”, thereby killing 20 of the Indian soldiers. Both the countries have decided to resolve the matter peacefully, without the intervention of any third country. According to the recent news, both countries have arrived at a mutual consensus to disengage the military troops stationed at the grey area between India and China. However, if China tries to intrude or break the “mutual consensus agreement”, India could use it’s right of self- defence against armed attack, which is guaranteed by UN charter under article 51. Even though a peaceful consensus has been agreed upon by countries, a wave of “Boycott Chinese products” has been inculcated within Indian people. Recently, a lot of Chinese FDI’s or local Chinese contracts has been put to hold, due to this particular event of Ladakh. Moreover, a lot of Indian nationals has even boycotted Chinese apps. This spirit of nationalism is something that was long-awaited. From time to time, the spirit of “Boycott Chinese products” were enraged amongst Indians, however, such a rage used to last for a very small period. However, this time, a lot of initiatives by Indian citizens as well as the government has been taken up to give effect to this movement. This is not only the situation in India but also, worldwide. Due to the current Covid-19 crisis, a lot of USA and UK based firms has decided to shift their manufacturing units to other countries, India is one of their priority. Hence, India should definitely use this to its best possible advantage to increase domestic manufacturing and depend less on Imported products.

(All views expressed on this article are my own)







[7] Article 2, Clause 2(UN Charter);

[8] Article 2, Clause 2(UN charter);

[9] declaration on principles of international law friendly relations and co-operation among states in accordance with the charter of the united nations;




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