Stand-off between Indian and Chinese border troops is the culmination of festering tensions between the two sides over territory that has been contested for more than a century.

In this October 10, 2019 file photo, an Indian schoolgirl wears a face mask of Chinese President Xi Jinping to welcome him on the eve of his visit in Chennai, India.
In this October 10, 2019 file photo, an Indian schoolgirl wears a face mask of Chinese President Xi Jinping to welcome him on the eve of his visit in Chennai, India. (AP)

In subzero temperatures on an inhospitable elevation, Indian and Chinese troops engaged in deadly hand-to-hand combat on Monday night. Blaming each other for the clashes in Galwan Valley along their disputed Kashmir border, both sides have agreed to try and de-escalate the situation amid UN concerns over the standoff.

The root of the dispute over the more than 4,000-km-long but loose border, Line of Actual Control (LAC), shared between the two Asian giants goes back to the British colonial era when the McMahon Line was drawn in 1914 between the borders of Tibet and India. 

The nationalist government of the Republic of China had repeatedly protested the British drawings of boundaries.

Map shows the location of Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control, the contested border between India and China, where troops from both countries clashed on June 15, 2020.
Map shows the location of Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control, the contested border between India and China, where troops from both countries clashed on June 15, 2020. (TRTWorld)

After the British partitioned the Indian subcontinent, New Delhi accepted the McMahon lines as its international boundary with China but Beijing refused to accept the lines drawn by the foreign colonisers, asserting they were not signatories to the British treaties.

August 1947: The fate of the northern princely state of Kashmir hangs in the balance as the British rulers carve India into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. 

Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu belonging to the Dogra dynasty, rules the region where Muslim subjects are accorded fewer rights than the Hindus.

The British had in the past helped the maharaja quell several attempts by the Muslims to rid themselves of the Dogra rule particularly in 1865, 1924, and 1931. 

September 1947: Muslims in Kashmir launch another rebellion with hopes of merging the region with Pakistan.

October 1947: The maharaja secretly accedes the territory to India on condition that the state retains autonomy except in defence, currency, and foreign affairs-related issues.

The Hindu ruler with the help of India's militant group RSS, massacres thousands of Muslims in southern Jammu region, altering its demographics

India deploys troops. Pakistani Pakhtun tribals cross into Kashmir upon rebels' invitation. 

Pakistan enters the war in 1948. 

Both Pakistan and India claim the disputed Kashmir region in its entirety.

January 1948: As the violence continues, India approaches the United Nations on January 1.

April 1948: UN passes a resolution demanding a ceasefire as well as a free and fair plebiscite for the people of the Kashmir region to decide their fate after the removal of troops from the region. 

The Line of Control or the de-facto border between the two sides in Kashmir is established.

October 1949: Communist leader Mao Zedong proclaims China as the Peoples' Republic of China.

1950: China sends its troops to Tibet and takes control of the remote mountainous region that declared independence in 1913.

1958: An uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet erupts and troops crush it the following year.

March 1959: Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, flees the crackdown and is granted asylum in India. 

Beijing lays claim to almost 80,000 sq km of India-controlled territory in Sikkim and protected country, Bhutan.

September 1959: Chinese premier Zhou Enlai in a letter to his Indian counterpart makes formal declaration claiming sovereignty over the Ladakh region of eastern Kashmir.

October 1962: War breaks out between India and China with Beijing taking control of around 40,000 sq km of territory in Kashmir, called Aksai Chin, as India loses the war. 

China changes its neutral stance over Kashmir and throws support behind Pakistan over the issue.

March 1963: Pakistan and China reach settlement over an area between northern Kashmir and Xinjiang region. 

1965:  India and China accuse each other of transgressions in contested border territories.

April 1975: China condemns the merger of Sikkim with India.

April 1976: India and China restore diplomatic representation to the ambassadorial status after a 15-year pause.

1980s: US involvement and growing influence in Pakistan during the Afghan war prompts China once again to take a neutral stance on the Kashmir dispute.

December 1986: Beijing condemns New Delhi’s proclamation of disputed Arunachal Pradesh as a state of the union government.

1990s and 2000s: India and China engage in several dispute resolution mechanisms as well as confidence-building measures pertaining to border issues.

Kargil war 1999: China takes a neutral stance over the war between India and Pakistan in Kargil.

May 2007: China denies a visa to Arunachal Pradesh's chief minister, saying the state is, in fact, a part of China, and residents do not require a visa to visit their own country.

October 2009: China objects to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

2010s: China changed its stance once again to support Pakistan against India at the UN. 

China also develops plans to make heavy investments amounting to more than $50 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

There is an increase in reports of border skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops.

September 2014: Reports of scuffles between the troops of India and China emerge in Chuma sector of Ladakh region, just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India.

July 2017: Reports emerge of troops buildup and a standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Sikkim region.

August 2017: Indian and Chinese border troops clash in the disputed Ladakh region of the Himalayas.

July 2018: China rejects India's concerns over its joint projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, a self-governing territory in Pakistan which lies in disputed Kashmir.

August 2019: India revokes Article 370 of its constitution, which was one of the conditions under which Maharaja Hari Singh ceded Kashmir to India in 1947 and granted a special semi-autonomous status to India-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan and China strongly criticise the move which aims to incorporate the disputed territory into India and allows outsiders to buy property in the contested area.

June 2020: At least 20 Indian troops, including a commanding colonel, killed in hand-to-hand combat between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley along the LAC. 

Beijing doesn't confirm Indian media reports of Chinese casualties.

China denies capturing Indian soldiers in the skirmish after Indian media report Beijing's release of 10 of them, including a colonel and two majors.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies