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Galwan Valley: Current Status after a year of disputes

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The two countries have fought only one war so far, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.

Ground Report | New Delhi: Current status of Galwan valley? On June 15, 2020, the worst violence on the India-China border since 1967 claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers. The clash occurred in the Galwan Valley, which hasn’t been a site of conflict since 1962. All will be clarified in this article below.

What is Galwan Valley?

The Galwan River flows from the disputed Aksai Chin region administered by China to the Ladakh region of India. It originates near the caravan campsite Samzungling on the eastern side of the Karakoram range and flows west to join the Shyok River. The point of confluence is 102 km south of Daulat Beg Oldi. Shyok River itself is a tributary of the Indus River, making Galwan a part of the Indus River system.

The narrow valley of the Galwan River as it flows through the Karakoram mountains has been a flashpoint between China and India in their body dispute. The main section of the Galwan river runs through the entire width of the Karakoram range at this location, for about 30 miles (48 km), where it cuts deep gorges along with its numerous tributaries.

Events happened in past

On June 15 last year, Ladakh’s Galwan Valley witnessed a violent clash between the Armies of India and China. The clash, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, was one of the worst in 45 years, and led to a military standoff with China and at least 11 rounds of military talks for the disengagement process.

Tensions had been high at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) weeks before the clash, with both sides deploying an increased number of soldiers at the border. India contended that China had moved into the Indian side of the LAC. Talks held between local military commanders of both armies on June 6, led to a mutually agreed disengagement process. The first major breakthrough in talks to resolve the nine-month military standoff was only reached in February 2021.

China’s Defense Ministry announced that Chinese and Indian troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangno tso began “synchronized and organized disengagement”. The agreement was in line with the consensus reached between Corps Commanders when they last met on January 24 during the ninth round of military talks.

In a statement, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said that “there are still some outstanding issues that remain regarding deployment and patrolling on LAC” and mentioned that “our attention will be on these in further discussions”

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Current status of Galwan valley

A year since the violent clash between the Armies of India and China in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has built additional accommodation in the depth areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on its side and is preparing for the long haul, official sources said.

According to intelligence inputs, the Chinese troops in the Pangong Lake area have all been rotated. China’s 4th and 6th Divisions were withdrawn from both the banks of Pangong Lake to Rutog County for repairs in February, and returned to Xinjiang for repairs in the past three weeks. They were replaced by the 8th and 11th Divisions. Each division has two mobile infantry regiments, an armoured regiment, an artillery regiment and an air defence regiment. PLA has also conducted exercises in Tibet and opposite Arunachal Pradesh.

India and China have so far held 11 rounds of military talks for disengagement and de-escalation in eastern Ladakh since the stand-off began in early May 2020. Defence officials said there was no clarity yet on when the next round of talks would be held. Army chief General M.M. Naravane recently said India was dealing with China in a “firm and non-escalators” manner and the coming rounds of talks would focus on restoration of status quo ante of April 2020.

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China’s Move In Galwan Valley

China has built new structures near the site of a Himalayan border clash that left 20 Indian troops dead earlier this month, fresh satellite images suggest.

Bunkers, tents, and storage units for military hardware are visible in an area where last month there were none. Fighting between the nuclear-armed powers over their disputed frontier has prompted alarm. Chinese casualties were also reported but not confirmed.

The latest images were published as the sides hold talks to defuse tensions.

The fresh satellite images, dated 22 June, are from space technology company Maxar. The structures which appear to have been built by China overlooking the Galwan River were not visible in aerial photographs earlier in June. Neither India nor China has commented. The clash in the Galwan Valley, in the disputed Himalayan territory of Ladakh, took place on 15 June, weeks after high-level military commanders from both nations agreed to “peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements.”

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A statement released by India’s foreign ministry said that India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi “reaffirmed that both sides should sincerely implement the understanding on disengagement and de-escalation that was reached by the senior commanders on 6 June”.

who’s controlling Galwan Valley?

Most Chinese maps show most of the Galwan river on China’s side of the line, but short of the confluence. This broadly corresponds with the LAC as India sees it – and in India’s view, as China saw it, until recently. “Chinese maps that I have seen show almost all of the Galwan River as lying within the territory China claims in the area,” said M. Taylor Fravel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China’s Territorial Disputes.

in June 1960 China put out a map claiming sovereignty over the Galwan valley. A Chinese map from November 1962 also claims the entire valley, but subsequent maps have not shown the western tip of the river as a part of China.

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The Line of Actual Control, as the disputed border between the two nations, is known, is poorly demarcated. The presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift.

The soldiers on either side – representing two of the world’s largest armies – come face to face at many points. India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh’s Galwan valley and says China occupies 38,000sq km (14,700sq miles) of its territory. Several rounds of talks in the last three decades have failed to resolve the boundary disputes.

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