China’s tryst with border disputes and expansionism
In September, US President Donald Trump said the country was ready to help both India and China fix their border dispute as the two countries engaged in activities deemed ‘attempted transgression’ by both New Delhi and Beijing.
China is no stranger to forcefully claiming foreign lands as its own as history bears witness to several such incidents.
The expansionist Communist regime shares borders with 14 countries but has a dispute with at least 21, thereby proving Beijing’s recent problem with India is not a ‘standalone’ issue but is more ‘chronic’ in nature.
Apart from recent border disputes, China claims India’s Arunachal Pradesh as its own. The two most populous countries are also neighbours and share a 3,488 km border. China also illegally occupies 38,000 sq km of Indian area in Ladakh, known as Aksai Chin. The area is of strategic importance to China as it connects Tibet and Xinjiang. The recent standoff at the LAC was also due to this expansionist policy by Beijing.
Other countries who share borders with China are Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Vietnam.
In Afghanistan, China illegally encroaches parts of the province despite a bilateral treaty which was signed in 1963. Similarly, in Brunei, China claims the southern part of the Spratly Islands, while Brunei says it has a share in the South China Sea, thereby engaging in a continuous conflict
Bhutan is the latest victim to China’s expansionist policies. A few months ago, China claimed Bhutan’s Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary a “disputed” territory. The “disputed” area is close to Tawang, the main town in India’s Arunachal Pradesh.
In January this year, Indonesia accused China of illegally fishing near Natuna Islands and using ‘intimidating island-patrol tactics’. Both the countries are fighting over the aforementioned islands and parts of the South China Sea.
China and Japan are fighting over the Senkaku Islands and Ryukyu Islands. Apart from it, the South China Sea and an overlapping Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea are also part of the debate.
With Kazakhstan, China share a border of 1,533 km as the former serves as a buffer zone between China and Russia. China has unilaterally claimed Kazakhstani territory and has settled for 22 percent of its claims.
China claims the whole of Kyrgyzstan. Under a 1999 agreement, the country had to hand over 1,250 sq km to China.
In Malaysia, China has a dispute over Spratly Islands. According to reports, Chinese “militia” vessels were forced to leave the sea after shadowing Malaysian drillship West Capella, off the country’s coast. The Chinese vessels left as American and Australian warships entered the disputed waters.
With Philippines, China has another dispute involving the Spratly Islands. The Scarborough Reef is also part of the dispute. While Beijing has offered to negotiate, the Philippines has said no to it, stating the areas belong to them.
Mongolia is another country that China claims on historical grounds. Mongolia’s border of 4677 km with China is the longest any country shares with the latter.
China also claims parts of Nepal as Tibet; therefore, it belongs to the former. According to reports, China illegally occupies 12 strategically important areas in Nepal. The two countries share a 1,440 km border.
Akin to Japan, South Korea and China have an overlapping Air Defence Identification Zone and Exclusive Economic Zone dispute over Leodo. The leodo rock is located 149.66 km from South Korea and 286.46 km from China.
China claims the entire Taiwan as its own, ignoring the latter’s sovereignty. The disputes are over Macclesfield Bank, Paracel Islands, Scarborough Islands, the Spratly Islands and parts of the South China Sea.
Along with India’s Arunachal Pradesh, China claims Tibet as its own, undermining the sovereignty of the territory. Beijing controls Tibet’s 12.28 lakh sq km territory, considering it an inalienable part since the 13th century.