Galwan Valley Clash: Where India-China ties stand after 3 years?

16 Aug 2023  Read 1134 Views

It’s been 3 years since the gruesome clash of Galwan happened. The Galwan Valley clash (India- China LAC Standoff) is a tragic incident that claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers and marked a significant turning point in the relationship between India and China. This deadly confrontation shattered a 45-year period of no-armed confrontation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and had far-reaching implications for both nations and the broader geopolitical landscape.

But why it is trending now?  This blog delves into the background of the Galwan Valley clash, the underlying issues, and why it is trending now.

Background of Galwan Valley standout

The Galwan Valley clash, which occurred at the heights of Ladakh, signalled the end of a long period of relative peace between India and China. 

  • The clash happened in the Galwan region of Eastern Ladakh near the Aksai Chin region and emerged as a pivotal moment in the relatively stable relationship between India and China.

  • The disputed area was to be vacated by both sides, but one Chinese camp refused to do so, which eventually led to hand-to-hand combat between the two armies.

  • The series of events leading up to this deadly confrontation reveals the complexities of the border dispute and underlying motivations on both sides.

  • The Galwan Valley clash was not an isolated incident but rather the culmination of simmering tensions across multiple fronts. 

  • The regions of Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok, and Daulat Beg Oldie became the backdrop for standoffs between Indian and Chinese troops. 

  • These friction points highlighted the contested nature of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), further exacerbated by differing interpretations of its demarcation.

3 separate brawls, outsider Chinese troops & more: Most detailed account of  the brutal June 15 Galwan battle - India Today
The Galwan Valley
Source: India Today

Why did the Galwan clash happen?

  • The escalating tensions in the Galwan Valley were not solely about territorial claims. Pangong Tso, a resource-rich lake, assumed strategic importance for both sides due to its potential natural resources and military significance. 

  • China's offensive positioning on the Indian side of the LAC was not only territorial tricks but also aimed at gaining enhanced control over the resource-rich areas.

  • The Galwan Valley's historical significance added weight to the conflict. Memories of the 1962 war between India and China loomed over this region, making it a historical flashpoint. The clash of 1962 had made this area contentious, and the recent developments brought back memories of that confrontation.

Source: Hindustan Times

Why is it trending?

We all are known the fact that the Indian Air Force (IAF) played a crucial role in providing assistance to our troops posted in Ladakh during the Galwan Valley clashes in 2020, But recently it has been reported that IAF airlifted over 68,000 soldiers, 90+ tanks, radar systems, artillery, and more to Ladakh in 2020.

  • Su-30 MKI and Jaguar jets deployed for 24/7 surveillance and intelligence gathering in the region. Yes, you heard it right; that’s how grave the situation was.

  • This swift and substantial deployment was aimed to bolster India's military readiness along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

  • This approach helped ensure accurate tracking of Chinese troop movements and positions, maintaining a critical edge in the volatile region.

  • Apart from it, The Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) agreed to resolve the remaining issues along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector in a speedy manner through continued dialogue during the 19th round of military talks held on August 13-14, a joint statement said on Tuesday.

As tensions persisted and both sides remained locked in a confrontation along various friction points in eastern Ladakh, diplomatic initiatives continued but as per the latest reports, we might have a breakthrough as High-level military talks and meetings aimed to address the situation and restore peace and tranquility along the border continue. 

Source: Business Today

Diplomacy and Peace 

  • This was the first time the military talks were held over two days. The 19th round of India- China corps commander level meeting was held at the Chushul- Moldo border point on the Indian site.

  • The clash prompted both nations to maintain a substantial military presence along the LAC, underscoring the urgency for diplomatic resolutions.

  • The two sides had a positive, constructive and in-depth discussion and resolution of the remaining issue on the LAC.

Root Causes and Complexities of the Conflict

The underlying issues leading to the Galwan Clash are complex in nature and deeply rooted in territorial disputes, differing perceptions of the LAC, and strategic interests. 

Source: The Wire

Key points of contention include:

  • Standoff Areas and LAC 

  As discussed earlier in this blog, The Indian and Chinese armies were locked in standoffs in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok, and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh which is located near the Aksai Chin region or the Ardagh-Johnson Line: The boundary that was proposed by Sir John Ardagh and Sir W.H. Johnson in 1897, also called as the Ardagh-Johnson Line, formed the basis of India's claims to Aksai Chin. China never accepted these propositions.

  • Divergent Positions 

India and China hold different views on the border's size, disputes' locations, and the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Disagreements persist on historical and territorial claims and these problems, combined with unresolved issues, pose a potential threat to India.

  • Ambiguity in Colonial Era

The border dispute had its roots in the colonial era when British initiatives to demarcate Himalayan frontiers were guided by strategic competition with Russia. Colonial administrators depicted varying versions of boundaries, causing confusion and eventually presenting us with the complex situation we have today with our neighbours.

  • Resource-Rich Territories

   The situation on the northern bank of Pangong Tso goes beyond territorial gains; it involves the strategic control of the resource-rich lake, adding complexity to the standoff.

  • China's 'Nibble and Negotiate' Strategy

China's military aggression aligned with its 'nibble and negotiate' strategy, where military actions are used to alter facts on the ground while maintaining a veneer of diplomatic negotiations. By using military force, China aimed to attain its political objectives and expand its territory. This approach underscored the blend of military power and political plan in China's foreign policy.

  • Infrastructure Development

   The escalation in the Galwan Valley is believed to be linked to India's infrastructural advancements. The construction of a strategic road through the region has raised concerns, particularly due to its proximity to China and its potential to strengthen India's position.


In conclusion, the Galwan Valley clash marked a crucial juncture in India-China relations, punctuating a period of relative peace and stability with a deadly confrontation. The event served as a reminder of the complex dynamics and challenges of the India-China relationship. Furthermore, the clash highlighted the importance of diplomatic resolutions and maintaining a substantial military presence along the LAC. As India and China engaged in high-level military talks and meetings, the world watched closely, understanding that the resolution of this conflict involves not only military actions but also the interplay of diplomacy, history, and strategic interests and how peace should be restored in the Modern Era.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why did the Galwan Valley clash happen?

The Galwan Valley clash was triggered by several factors, including territorial disputes, differing interpretations of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), historical tensions, and strategic interests. The resource-rich nature of Pangong Tso and India's regional infrastructure development added to the complexity.

2. What is the significance of Pangong Tso in the conflict?

Pangong Tso, a resource-rich lake, holds strategic importance for both India and China due to its potential natural resources and military value. Control over this area was sought by both sides, leading to tensions and clashes.

3. How did the historical context contribute to the clash?

The clash occurred in a region with a history of conflict, particularly stemming from the 1962 war between India and China. This historical context heightened tensions and added to the complexity of the situation.

4. What is China's 'nibble and negotiate' strategy?

China's 'nibble and negotiate' strategy involves using military actions to alter facts on the ground while engaging in diplomatic negotiations. This approach allows China to advance its political objectives while maintaining a façade of diplomatic engagement.

5. What is the name of the border of Aksai Chin and its relevance?

The Ardagh-Johnson Line, proposed by Sir John Ardagh and Sir W.H. Johnson in 1897, forms the basis of India's claims to the Aksai Chin region. However, China does not accept these propositions, leading to ongoing disputes in the region.

6. What impact did the Galwan Valley clash have on India-China relations?

The Galwan Valley clash marked a significant turning point in India-China relations, breaking a 45-year period of relative peace on the LAC. It highlighted the complexities of the border dispute, the influence of historical legacies, and the strategic interests of both nations.

About the Author: Devansh Dixit | 32 Post(s)

Devansh is a 4th-year law student from Amity Law School Noida (Uttar Pradesh), currently interning at Finology Legal. He is specialising in business and commercial laws. 

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