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Coordinates: 35°7′N 79°8′E / 35.117°N 79.133°E / 35.117; 79.133

Aksai Chin
China India western border 88.jpg
China - India western border showing Aksai Chin
Traditional Chinese 阿克賽欽
Simplified Chinese 阿克赛钦

Aksai Chin, also Aksayqin, Akesaiqin or Akesai Qin (Hindi: अक्साई चिन, Simplified Chinese: 阿克赛钦), is a disputed region located in the northwestern region of the Tibetan Plateau north of the western Kunlun Mountains.[1] It is entirely administered by the People's Republic of China as a part of Hotan County in the Hotan Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. It is, however, claimed by India as a part of its state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Contents

Geography

Aksai Chin is one of the two main border disputes between India and the People's Republic of China, the other being the dispute over Arunachal Pradesh, which is administered by India and claimed by China as South Tibet. India claims Aksai Chin as the eastern-most part of the Jammu and Kashmir state. The line that separates Indian-administered areas of Jammu and Kashmir from Aksai Chin is known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and is concurrent with the Chinese Aksai Chin claim line (i.e., one and the same as the western boundary of Aksai Chin.)

Aksai Chin (the name literally means "white (ak) brook (sai) pass (chin)") is largely a vast high-altitude desert including some salt lakes from 4,800 metres (16,000 ft) to 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) above sea level. It covers an area of 37,250 square kilometres (14,380 sq mi). Geographically part of the Tibetan Plateau, the northern part of Aksai Chin is referred to as the Soda Plain and contains Aksai Chin's largest river, the Karakosh. Glaciated peaks in the mid portion of the western boundary with Indian-controlled Kashmir reach heights of 6,950 metres (22,800 ft). The eastern part of the region contains the lake Aksayqin Hu and the river. The region is almost uninhabited, has no permanent settlements, and receives little precipitation as the Himalayan and other mountains block the rains from the Indian monsoon.

History

Aksai Chin was historically part of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakhuntil Ladakh was annexed from the rule of the local Namgyal dynasty by the Dogras and the princely state of Kashmir in the 19th century.

One of the main causes of the Sino-Indian War of 1962 was India's discovery of a road that the Chinese had built through Aksai Chin, shown as Chinese on official Chinese maps. Beginning in 1954, India had shown on its official Survey of India maps a definite boundary line awarding Aksai Chin to itself, despite no military or other occupation of the area. Before 1954, Indian maps had shown undefined and indefinite boundary lines in this area. The China National Highway 219, connecting Tibet and Xinjiang, passes through no towns in Aksai Chin, only some military posts and truck stops, such as the very small Tianshuihai (el. 4,850 m (15,900 ft)) post. The road adds to the strategic importance of the area.

Aksai Chin is currently administered by the People's Republic of China as a part of Hotan County in the Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang. What little data exists suggests that the few true locals in Aksai Chin have Buddhist beliefs, although some Muslim Uyghurs may also live in the area because of the trade between Tibet and Xinjiang. India claims the area as a part of the Ladakh district of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Both sides in the dispute have agreed to respect the Line of Actual Control.

The 1963 Sino-Pakistani border agreement, which awarded to the People's Republic of China the Trans-Karakoram Tract (still claimed by India as a northernmost extension to Kashmir), had no implications on the status of Aksai Chin, nor have any subsequent Sino-Pakistani agreements. The Trans-Karakoram Tract and Aksai Chin do not border each other. The fact that the 1963 China-Pakistan boundary line terminated at the Karakoram Pass, nine kilometers west of the westernmost tip of Aksai Chin, indicated only that the two states saw the futility in drawing the line any further east in area occupied since 1947 by India, and the impossibility of being able to physically demarcate the line on the ground as they did with the section west of the Karakoram Pass. The text of the 1963 accord makes no reference to Aksai Chin, despite internet speculation to the contrary. [2]

Strategic Importance

The China National Highway 219 runs through Aksai Chin connecting Lazi and Xinjiang in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Despite this region being nearly uninhabitable and having no resources, it remains strategically important for China as it connects Tibet and Xinjiang. Construction started in 1951 and the road was completed in 1957. The construction of this highway was one of the triggers for the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

Chinese terrain model

In June 2006, satellite imagery on the Google Earth service revealed a 1:150[3] scale terrain model [1] of eastern Aksai Chin and adjacent Tibet, built near the town of Huangyangtan, about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of Yinchuan, the capital of the autonomous region of Ningxia in China.[4] A visual side-by-side comparison shows a very detailed duplication of Aksai Chin in the camp.[5] The 900 by 700 m (3,000 by 2,300 ft) model was surrounded by a substantial facility, with rows of red-roofed buildings, scores of olive-colored trucks and a large compound with elevated lookout posts and a large communications tower. Such terrain models are known to be used in military training and simulation, although usually on a much smaller scale.

Local authorities in Ningxia point out that their model of Aksai Chin is part of a tank training ground, built in 1998 or 1999.[3]

References

External links

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Simple English

File:China
Map showing it as part of China

Aksai Chin (Hindi: अक्साई चिन, Simplified Chinese: 阿克赛钦, Ākèsàiqīn) is a region which lies at the juncture of China and India. It consists of about one fifth of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is ruled by China but claimed by the Republic of India. Aksai Chin is one of the two main border disputes between India and China, the other being the dispute over Arunachal Pradesh. Aksai Chin (the name literally means "Chin's desert of white stones") is a very large high-altitude desert of salt that reaches heights up to 5,000 metres. It covers an area of 42,685 km² (16,481 sq mi) of the disputed territory. Geographically part of the Tibetan Plateau, Aksai Chin is often called the Soda Plain. The region is almost uninhabited, has no permanent settlements, and receives little rain or snow as the Himalayan and other mountains block the rains from the Indian monsoon.

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