The Johnson Line : A Border Line Between India and China

The Johnson line

The account of border line disagreement between India and China is not fresh. Ever since 1865, W. H. Johnson, of Survey of India planned the “Johnson Line”, which locates Aksai Chin in Kashmir. Even though China never accepted this line, it was well accepted as the border between India and China. Johnson proposed the Johnson line to the Maharaja of Kashmir, who then inherited the 18,000 square kilometers area. Johnson’s work which even extensively asserted 80 miles advance into China was disapproved and not accepted for gross inexactness, with explanation of his frontier as “blatantly ridiculous” when India and China went into disagreement over the border line issue. Johnson was warned by the British Government for crossing into Khotan without consent and had to reconcile from the Survey.

The Emperor of Jammu and Kashmir it seems that had sent a few military troops at Shahidulla and up to the Karakash River within the province of Xinjiang. As per the version of  Francis Younghusband, who investigated the province in the 1880s, there were discarded fort and not one occupied house at Shahidulla at that time – it was just a convenient enactment post and a suitable headquarter for the nomadic Kirghiz.

In 1878 China had subjugated over Xinjiang, and by 1890 China had already taken over Shahidulla before the issue was resolute. In the year 1892, China had constructed the boundary at Karakoram Pass. In year 1897 Sir John Ardagh, anticipated a boundary line along the mountainous area north of Kun Lun Mountains and suggested alterations in the Johnson line.

The Ardagh line was efficiently an alteration of the Johnson line, and became known as the “Johnson-Ardagh Line”. Until at least 1908, the Macdonald line was taken to be the boundary, but in 1911 after the Xinhai Revolution with the fall down of central power in China, and by the end of World War I, the Johnson Line was finally accepted by the British as the line of demarcation. However till 1947 the maps were not restructured and still demonstrated the Johnson Line as the boundary between India and China. When British learned in 1940-1941 that Soviet Russia was surveying the Aksai Chin for Sheng Shicai, the warlord of Xinjiang, they once more promoted the Johnson Line. At this position the British were silent on attempts to ascertain colony or control over the Aksai Chin, nor the subject was ever discussed with the governments of China or Tibet, and the boundary remained un-demarcated till India’s independence.

The 1962 Sino-Indian War was fought as a result of the Indo- China border confusion, in order to resolve the dispute, and a mutually agreed Line of Actual Control. Sovereignty over two countries of territory has been contested between China and India ever since the end of the war.

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