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Expansionist strategy uncovered in China’s occupied-Tibet-India border incursions

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(TibetanReview.net, Nov15’22) – Chinese incursions into the Aksai Chin region of India are not random, independent events but part of a strategically planned and coordinated “expansionist strategy” to gain permanent control of the disputed border area, reported the dailypioneer.com Nov 12, citing a study by a team of international experts.

The study “Rising tension in the Himalayas: a Geospatial Analysis of Chinese Border Incursions into India” by Northwestern University, Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Defence Academy, was said to present a geospatial analysis of the incursions, using an original dataset that covers the past 15 years.

“We find that the conflict can be separated into two independent conflicts, west and east, centered around the major contested areas of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh. Building on insights from game theory, we conclude that the Chinese incursions in the west are strategically planned and aim for a permanent control, or at least a clearer status quo of the contested areas,” the study, released late Nov 10, was quoted as saying,

The team has defined an “incursion” as any movement of Chinese troops across the border — by foot or in vehicles — into areas that are internationally accepted as India’s territory.

The study has plotted each location on a map, identifying 13 hotspots where incursions happen most frequently.

In their 15-year dataset, the researchers have noted an average of 7.8 incursions per year even though the Indian Government’s estimates are much higher.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC (line of actual control) between India and Chinese occupied Tibet. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet. Aksai Chin is a vast area in Ladakh which is currently under Chinese occupation, the report noted.

The study has been authored by Jan-Tino Brethouwer and Robbert Fokkink of the Technical University of Delft, Delft Insititute of Applied Mathematics in Netherlands, Kevin Greene of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, Roy Lindelauf of Netherlands Defence Academy, Faculty of Military Sciences in Breda, Netherlands, Caroline Tornquist of Dartmouth College’s Department of Computer Science and VS Subrahmanian of Northwestern University’s Department of Computer Science and Buffett Institute for Global Affairs in Evanston, US, the report said.

A press release from Northwestern was cited as saying the authors assembled a new dataset, compiling information about Chinese incursions into India from 2006 to 2020 and used game theory and statistical methods to analyse the data.

It said “Chinese incursions across India’s west and central borders are not independent, random incidents that happen by mistake.”

The release also said that “while the researchers learned that the number of incursions are generally increasing over time, they concluded that conflicts in the east and middle sectors are part of a coordinated expansionist strategy.”

In particular, Subrahmanian, the study’s senior author and the Walter P Murphy Professor of Computer Science at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and a Buffett Faculty Fellow at Northwestern’s Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, has said that by studying the number of incursions that occurred in the west and middle sectors over time “it became obvious, statistically, that these incursions are not random. The probability of randomness is very low, which suggests to us that it’s a coordinated effort”.


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