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About McMahon Line


A recent bipartisan Senate resolution in the United States recognizes the McMahon Line as the international boundary between China and Arunachal Pradesh.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About McMahon Line
  2. What is LAC?

About McMahon Line:

  • British India annexed Assam in northeastern India in 1826, by Treaty of Yandabo at the conclusion of the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826). After subsequent Anglo-Burmese Wars, the whole of Burma was annexed giving the British a border with China’s Yunan province.
  • In 1913–14, representatives of Britain, China, and Tibet attended a conference in Simla, India and drew up an agreement concerning Tibet’s status and borders. The McMahon Line, a proposed boundary between Tibet and India for the eastern sector, was drawn by British negotiator Henry McMahon on a map attached to the agreement.
  • All three representatives initialled the agreement, but Beijing soon objected to the proposed Sino-Tibet boundary and repudiated the agreement, refusing to sign the final map on the ground that Tibet was subordinate to China and had not the power to make treaties.
  • Chinese have maintained this position to the present day and also have claimed that Chinese territory extends southward to the base of the Himalayan foothills.
  • This frontier controversy with independent India led to the Sino-Indian hostilities of October–November 1962. In that conflict the Chinese forces occupied Indian territory south of the McMahon Line but subsequently withdrew after a cease-fire had been achieved.
India’s stand on McMahon Line
  • India believes that when the McMahon Line was established in 1914, Tibet was a weak but independent country, so it has every right to negotiate a border agreement with any country.
  • According to India, when the McMahon Line was drawn, Tibet was not ruled by China. Therefore, the McMahon Line is the clear and legal boundary line between India and China.
  • Even after the Chinese occupancy over Tibet in 1950, the Tawang region remained an integral part of India.
Current status on the McMahon Line
  • India recognizes the McMahon Line and considers it to be the ‘Actual Line of Control (LAC)’ between India and China, while China does not recognize the McMahon Line. China says that the area of the disputed area is 2,000 kilometers while India claims it is 4,000 kilometers.
  • This land dispute between India and China is in Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), which China considers as the Southern part of Tibet. Whereas according to the Shimla Agreement it is a part of the Indian state Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It is a geographical border between Northeast India and Tibet
  • Though India considers the McMahon Line as the legal national border, China rejects it, contending that Tibet was not a sovereign state and therefore did not have the power to conclude treaties. 

What is LAC?

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a significant demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory. Here are some key points to understand about LAC:

  • Length: India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
  • De-facto border: Currently, the LAC is the de-facto border between India and China.
  • Divided into sectors: The LAC is divided into three sectors – Western, Middle, and Eastern.
    • Western sector: The Western sector includes Ladakh and Kashmir.
    • Middle sector: The Middle sector includes Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
    • Eastern sector: The Eastern sector includes Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, where the alignment of the LAC is along the McMahon Line.

Source: The Hindu

March 2024