WHO map shows Ladakh’s Aksai Chin as part of China: What is controversy?

WHO map shows Ladakh’s Aksai Chin as part of China: What is controversy?

The World Health Organisation (WHO), which is facing accusation of delaying declaring Covid-19 a pandemic allegedly at Beijing’s behest, seems to have floundered on the depiction of China’s map on its website. Already US President Donald Trump announces to put a hold on WHO funding

♦What is controversy?

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reportedly shown parts of Ladakh as Chinese territory.
  • The health organisation’s website shows the Aksai Chin region as a part of China with a dotted line and colour code. Furthermore, the WHO map also marks Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) with dotted lines, suggesting it as a disputed territory.

Note: Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the rest of India are marked in different colour codes.

  • While several United Nations (UN) maps have shown parts of Kashmir as ‘disputed’ territory in the past, this is probably the first time that Ladakh and J&K are shown in different colour codes than the rest of India.
  • Gautam Bambawale, India’s former envoy to China, Pakistan and Bhutan told The Economic Times (ET), “The map of India depicted by WHO differs from the standard depiction even of the United Nations itself, by not showing parts of J&K which are under actual control of India as a part of our country.” He further added that the different colour coding for JnK and Ladakh from the rest of India in the WHO map is “strange, incorrect, and surprising.”

♦What is Aksai Chin Area?

  • Aksai Chin is a huge desert of Salt Flat located at the altitude of about 5,000 meters above sea level. Its area is about 37,244 square kilometers.
  • This large area of the North Eastern part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been under Chinese occupation since 1950s. China has administratively made it a part of the Kargilic district of Xinjiang Province.

♦History of Aksai Chin dispute

Aksai region has been the land of dispute between India and China since 1950. Aksai Chin is barren, isolated and mostly uninhabitable land, that is why it was ignored for a long time.

  • In the 1950s, China constructed a military road through Aksai Chin region to connect Tibet with Xinjiang.
  • India objected this construction which resulted in war between the two countries in 1962.
  • China hold control of about 38,000 square km of territory in Aksai Chin at the end of the war.
  • This region which was originally a part of Jammu & Kashmir is now administered by China after the 1962 war.
  • Till now, the area remained a point of disagreement between India and China.

ALSO READ: Is India the next Global Manufacturing Hub after COVID-19?

♦Present situation in Aksai Chin Area

  • This region constitutes 15 % of the total area of Jammu and Kashmir, which is illegally occupied by China.
  • According to India, Aksai Chin is a part of Jammu and Kashmir and an integral part of India while China has always claimed that Aksai Chin is Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
  • India says China has occupied 38,000 square km of its territory in Aksai Chin, while China claims 90,000 square km in Arunachal Pradesh.

On this matter, former External Affairs Minister late Sushma Swaraj said that under the so-called China-Pakistan “Boundary Agreement” signed between China and Pakistan on 2 March 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 square km. of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) to China.


  • WHO has not done this type of controversy the first time, on numerous occasions WHO has supported China previously. WHO has not allowed Taiwan as its member due to Taiwan’s complex relationship with China (China sees Taiwan as a part of it and don’t consider it a nation).

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