Yes, it’s still a matter of great confusion and argument amongst the people to know which country does the state of Arunchal Pradesh belong to.
Well, this is not only the majorly asked query amongst the people. This question has been raised quite many times in the past few decades.
Is Arunachal Pradesh part of China or India?
Arunachal Pradesh is officially, legally, and geographically a part of India and not China. This state is a part of North-East Indian states that has its own State Government and is run by the Indian Central Government as well. India’s sovereignty over the area is internationally recognized and all of the people of Arunachal Pradesh are strictly the citizens of India and not of China.
Mostly travellers ask this particular question very often and they are curious to know the answer to it.
Although, Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India but still, there’s a dispute between India and China regarding the border of Arunachal.
China claims the full state of Arunachal Pradesh a part of her territory whereas, India’s sovereignty over the state is internationally recognized.
The dispute between India & China
The boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and China is claimed by the McMahon line.
The McMahon Line is the boundary line between the Tibetan region of China and the North-East region of India proposed by British colonial administrator Sir Henry McMahon during the 1914 Simla Convention. It was signed between British and Tibetan representatives in 1914.
The strange part is that the legal status of this McMahon line is still disputed and disapproved by the Chinese Government.
Why does China dispute the McMahon line?
Chinese Governmnet officially disapproves and refuses to agree the McMahon line and strongly claims that the state of Arunachal Pradesh is fully a part of China and not of India.
This McMahon Line is officially regarded by the Indian Government as the legal national border between China and Arunachal, but China rejects the 1914 Simla Convention and so rejects the McMahon Boundary Line.
China announced that Tibet was not a sovereign state and therefore did not have the power to conclude treaties and so, the treaty that defines the McMahon line is void and can’t be legally approved.
What is the Simla Convention of 1914 that defines the McMahon line?
We all know that, India before 1947 was governed by the British Indian Government.
So, a majority of the early treaties were signed between the British Indian Government with the respective countries or regions regarding the boundaries and the rules. The same was the case with the Simla Convention of 1914.
During those times, Tibet was an independent, but a weak country. It had regular conflicts with China regarding its boundaries.
British India negotiated hard and got Tibet to accept that the region of Tawang and the various areas of South Tibet belongs to India. And, that Tibet will remain fully independent after becoming a part of India and no issues of its boundary conflicts will occur with China after that.
The Simla Convention is also known as the Convention Between Great Britain, China, and Tibet which was held in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh in 1914.
It was an unclear treaty concerning the status of Tibet negotiated by representatives of the Republic of China, Tibet, and Great Britain in Simla in between 1913 and 1914.
According to this treaty,
- Tibet was to be divided into “Outer Tibet” and “Inner Tibet”.
- Outer Tibet would remain in the hands of the Tibetan Government and China would not interfere in its administration.
- Inner Tibet would remain under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government and Outer Tibet would not interfere in its administration.
- It also defines the boundary between Tibet and British India i.e. McMahon Line.
- And that some parts of South Tibet including Tawang, will become a part of India and will remain fully independent with their self-government after that.
It was during that time of signing the Simla Treaty that China strongly rejected to determine the boundaries with Tibet.
As a result, Tibet signed the Simla Accord with British India, which includes the McMahon line, but China didn’t sign and strongly rejected it.
Why does China claim Arunachal Pradesh?
China claims Arunachal Pradesh based on its historical pieces of evidence. They say that since time immemorial Tibet was the part of China and was ruled by the Chinese rulers.
If we turn the pages of history we will learn that earlier Tibet was an independent kingdom ran by the Tibetans.
Then, it was in the early 1200 AD when Tibet came under the Yuan dynasty which was China’s first foreign-led dynasty which ruled the Chinese mainlands.
Since then Tibet remained strictly under the part of China for more than 600+ years till the times of the Qing dynasty.
Then, it was the first time after 600+ years when by about 1860s, Tibet earned its independence and got freed from China. It soon began to be recognized as a separate country.
By 1913, Tibet became completely free from the Qing dynasty of China as that dynasty was completely demolished and collapsed in China during the early 1912s. Tibet soon became fully complete independent in 1913.
But, it was China that completely rejected Tibet’s Independence and had still claimed that it was hers.
Still the Chinese Goverment claims the whole Arunachal Pradesh (which is called South Tibet in China) under her territory based on those above mentioned historical records and sayings without any stong proof.
What was the main reason for China to decline the McMahon line?
China claims that Tibet never ever got its independence from China. It remained a part of China and is still part of the country.
Later on during the Simla Covention, the Tibetan Indian boundary was negotiated in Simla between the representatives from Britain and Tibet privately, in the absence of the Chinese representative.
China learned about it and highly rejected the idea of signing the treaty with the British and the Tibetan representatives.
The Chinese representative rejected while saying that Tibet was not a sovereign state and therefore it did not have the power to conclude treaties and define boundaries. And so he didn’t sign the treaty.
As the Chinese representative, Ivan Chen declined to sign it so, a new slightly revised Simla Convention was introduced and signed again on 3 July 1914, but only between Britain and Tibet.
The British and Tibetan plenipotentiaries then attached a bilateral declaration to the effect that the convention would be binding on themselves and that China would be denied any privileges under the convention.
As a result it was seen that, China disagreed to the McMahon boundary line but the British and Tibetan Government agreed to it.
Why did the British Indian Government want to create the McMahon line?
To answer this let us again turn the pages of history a bit and try to know a few things.
Earlier before 1912, there were no such strict borders between Tibet and India as the bordering regions were the very far away located places from the mainlands above in the high, cold, and difficult hilly terrains.
Very few people lived there for it to matter. And, neither the Mughals nor the British were controlling those Tibetan regions. Even the Chinese didn’t care a lot about it.
Then, soon after the construction of the Twang Monastery in the 16th century, Tibet came under the notice of the British Indian Government.
This Monastery soon became and is still one of the most important sites for the Tibetan Buddhists. The area is assumed to have been populated by the Tibetans during those times.
This place as a result highly attracted the British and the Chinese Government to take hold of the Tawang Monastery under its territory which was under Tibet during those times.
From the early times, Indian empires and Tibetan empires were in mutual friendships and harmony with each other and so, the exact border was neither drawn nor enforced.
So, Tibet supported the British Indian Government, and so later on, the McMahon line was defined after signing the Simla Convention of 1914.
Why still there is a conflict for Arunachal Pradesh between India and China?
China never recognized Tibet’s independence nor the 1914 Simla Convention.
And so, later on, the Simla Convention was initially rejected by the British Indian Government as incompatible with the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention which stays that no such agreements can be signed without the approval of Russia.
Since China rejected and didn’t sign the convention and also as per the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention, the Tibetan government also didn’t agree with the McMahon Line later on as the Tibetan also wanted China’s approval.
The Anglo-Russian Convention was renounced by Russia and Britain jointly in 1921, and the McMahon Line was forgotten until 1935.
Soon in 1937, the British Government started mapping Southern Tibet regions under the Indian Territory. But, the Tibetan government protested and its authority was restored and Tawang remained in Tibetan hands until 1951.
The main attraction was the Tawang Monastery that the British Government wanted to add in its territory as it was an important Tibetan Buddhist landmark.
Tibetans regarded the McMahon Line invalid and in the late 1950s, after India got its independence, the McMahon Line became a source of tension between China and India.
Later China and India fought the Indo-China War in 1962 regarding the boundaries.
The Indian Army safeguarded the Tawang district mainly and the state of Arunachal Pradesh from going into the hands of the Chinese Government.
What China still wants?
Although China claims the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, but its main want is the Tawang district which is the homeland of the Tawang Monastery.
China cites the Tawang Monastery as a piece of evidence and says that this district once belonged to Tibet.
China also wants the present-day Indian Government to return it to China in order to help settle the issue and further geopolitical conflicts as well.
As per official records, China claims, “We don’t recognize the entire Arunachal state as being a part of India, but Tawang is particularly special. It has longstanding historic links with Tibet and it is important for us to be able to settle the border problem.”
Conclusion: Is Arunachal Pradesh Part of China or India?
Yes, Arunachal Pradesh is officially a part of India. It is now a part of India as any other India cities.
This state was initially called North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) in 1954. And later, it was on 20 January 1972, that it was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh.
China never recognized Tibet’s independence nor the 1914 Simla convention.
In 1950 China would completely take over Tibet, but the Indian Army defeated the Chinse army and they fled away from the Indian territory.
Thus, according to China, the Tawang region belongs to her. China especially wants to hold on to the monastery as that is a leading center of Tibetan Buddhism in India.
According to India, most of the state had ancient Indian influence from Assam and in 1914 Tibetans signed an agreement to give the state to India.
And also, from an Indian perspective, keeping the Tawang monastery within India is the best way to protect whatever is remaining of Tibetan culture in India.
As per the data, the geography clearly favors India and China had to pull back from Tawang. Since then India has established complete control over the region.
India’s sovereignty over the area is internationally recognized both geographically and on the official maps as well.
And also as per international relations, all of the people of Arunachal Pradesh are strictly considered the citizens of India and not of China.