Line on the Border, Line in our Minds: PANGONG TSO LAKE

First Stand-off of 2020

Team Law Community
June 18, 2020

The previous post by the author, "The line in the border and the line in our minds: Assessing Indo-Sino border Dispute" was an introductory piece of work for more specific analysis in the India-China Relations and the current mayhem. 

This post submits the scenario of the Line of Actual Control and the first Policy abridgment by China in May 2020.


Beginning with the year 1950, on March 17 the members of the Lok Sabha while discussing the Tibet crisis(Resulting in China's wanton invasion on Tibet) put forth a security concern related to the vaguely drawn McMohan Line. In 2012, The Parliamentary Standing Committee followed by the then Minister of Defence affirmed that there is no commonly delineated LAC between India and China. Further, with this fact, there was a lot of infrastructural development to the north side of the LAC by China posing a threat to India. Thus, LAC is to this date understood as a line up to which the troops of the two sides exercise effective control. This mutual understanding arises only in the letter written by the then Chinese President in 1959 to the then Prime Minister of India. 

The LAC is disputed at several locations and recently China placed allegations on the Indian Military troops for trespassing into the Chinese territory while patrolling from Sikkim and Ladakh region leading to continuous stand-offs. The first of the incident was of May 5, 2020, along the eastern Ladakh border near Pangong Tso.


Pangong Tso Lake on eastern LAC is the water boundary between India and China. The lake is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked) lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas. Strategically, the lake becomes important today when India has gone ahead to construct a metallic road bypassing Nepal and reaching the Chinese border near Galwan Valley connecting to Daulat Beg Oldi airbase and lies in the path of Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory. The border over this lake is not mutually agreed and in past instances, it has been observed that China has moved at least 5 km into the Indian part of the territory. 


The stand-off was pictured due to the springing campaign of China by deploying as good as 10,000 soldiers with tents and other combat materials on the LAC. China on the one hand accuse the Indian military of trespassing whereas, India alleges the hindrance by the People's Liberation Army of China in Indian patrolling.

The army calls barren mountains on the northern part of the lake's bank as Fingers. Indian Army claims that up to Finger 8 the control is with Indian outpost, however, physically China has restraint the movement of the Indian army only up to Finger 2 as they breach in this part of the territory in the name of patrolling. 

The current stand-off is on Finger 5. 


1.) A video was being broadcasted by various news channels in India on Pangong Tso Lake’s stand-off wherein, the two armies were shown hustling, Chinese counterparts pelting stones. But the truth is otherwise. Indian Army has denied any physical struggle on the lake and has confirmed that the video was that of the Dokhlam stand-off of 2017.

2.) The Ministry of Home Affairs alleged violation of air space by the People's Liberation Army, however, the Ministry has later itself denied such claims. 

Further, the army spokesperson also denied any border violation.


Though there indeed exists, what may be called, a persistent security dilemma between India and China, but the news concerning Pangong Tso Lake is the one so analyzed above. The tensions between the two nations have turned diplomatic and as of today, the dialogue is under process. To read more about the reasons for such a situation of military and diplomatic stand-off, stay connected to our latest blogs. 

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