• Two United States Senators have introduced a bipartisan resolution reiterating that the US recognises the McMahon Line as the international boundary between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The resolution reaffirms India’s well-known and established position that Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls ‘South Tibet’, is an integral part of India.

What is the McMahon Line?

  • The McMahon Line serves as the de facto boundary between China and India in the Eastern Sector.
  • It specifically represents the boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet, from Bhutan in the west to Myanmar in the east.

China’s claimes:

  • China has historically disputed the boundary and claims the state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).
  • The McMahon Line was drawn during the Simla Convention of 1914, officially described as the Convention Between Great Britain, China, and Tibet.
  • The McMahon Line delimited the respective spheres of influence of Tibet and Northeast India and Northern Myanmar.

The Simla Convention:

  • The border in this region was undefined prior to the signing of the convention.
  • The convention attempted to settle the question of Tibet’s sovereignty and avoid further territorial disputes in the region.
  • The treaty divided the Buddhist region into “Outer Tibet” and “Inner Tibet”:
  • Outer Tibet would remain in the hands of the Tibetan Government at Lhasa under Chinese suzerainty, though China was not allowed to interfere in its affairs.
  • Inner Tibet would be under the direct jurisdiction of the newly formed Republic of China.
  • It also determined the border between China proper and Tibet as well as Tibet and British India.
  • While a draft convention was agreed upon by all three countries on April 27, 1914, China immediately repudiated it.
  • The final convention was only signed by McMahon on behalf of the British government and Shatra on behalf of Lhasa.
  • China did not consent to the convention, arguing that Tibet had no independent authority to enter into international agreements.

How was the border between British India and China decided?

  • The 890-km border from the corner of Bhutan to the Isu Razi Pass on the Burma border was drawn largely along the crest of the Himalayas, following the “highest watershed principle”.
  • This principle, considered to be the most logical way of drawing borders in mountainous regions by the British, basically drew the border along the highest ridge between two river plains.


  • Tawang, which would have been a part of Tibet had this principle been uniformly implemented, was included in British India due to its proximity to the Assam Valley.

Status of the McMahon line since 1914

  • During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, China was able to quickly overpower India and make deep inroads into Indian territory across the McMahon Line.
  • However, its forces retreated to pre-war positions after the unilateral ceasefire was announced.


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