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China plays the bully on Arunachal: Beijing tells Delhi to work out Eastern sector formula

January 31, 2012

  • Despite the smiles, boundary talks ended in deadlock


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There were speeches, smiles and the usual chants of Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai after the 15th round of Sino- Indian special representative talks in the Capital in mid-January. 

What actually transpired amid this show of bonhomie was that the boundary dialogue ended in a deadlock after Beijing declared it would settle for nothing less than 'its share' of Arunachal Pradesh. 

Highly placed sources privy to discussions between the two special interlocutors - National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and his Chinese counterpart, state councillor  Dai Bingguoa - said things went off track following some hard bargaining by China. 



All smiles? India's National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon (left) and his Chinese counterpart, state councillor Dai Bingguoa
All smiles? India's National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon (left) and his Chinese counterpart, state councillor Dai Bingguoa

All smiles? India's National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon (left) and his Chinese counterpart, state councillor  Dai Bingguoa 


Beijing had insisted during the meeting that India should first discuss the eastern boundary in Arunachal Pradesh. 

The hosts were surprised when Dai, couching his query in diplomatic niceties, asked Menon how much territory New Delhi would part with. 

The intransigent stand adopted by the Chinese was a response to India's proposals for a framework for boundary negotiations that the two countries shared during the border talks. 



Superficial bonhomie: An Indian soldier poses with Chinese soldiers for a photograph at a border post

Superficial bonhomie: An Indian soldier poses with Chinese soldiers for a photograph at a border post


Menon, a former envoy to Beijing and an old China hand in India's national security set-up, argued that under article 3 of the guiding principles of the Sino-Indian boundary discussions, all sectors (eastern, western and middle) needed to be discussed and a package solution required to be thrashed out. India argued that the western sector in Jammu and Kashmir, which includes the Aksai Chin area, should be discussed along with the eastern portion of the boundary. 

Under a previously agreed principle, the two sides had concurred in 2005 that settled population would not be disturbed. New Delhi articulated this, too, at the meeting. 

But Beijing simply stuck to its guns and told India to first put on the table its proposal for the division of Arunachal Pradesh, specifying the proportion of territory swap. 



The hotspot


'The meeting was held in a productive, fruitful and friendly manner,' Menon had said after the two-day session that began on January 16. 

Speaking at a banquet subsequent to the talks, Dai also struck an optimistic note, saying Sino-Indian ties had made 'substantial progress' and they (the two countries) could 'work miracles' together.




The differences on the boundary question should not be allowed to
affect the overall development
of bilateral relations... Neither side shalluse or threaten to use force against the other by any means.


The two sides should, in accordance with the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to theboundary question through consultations on an equal footing.


Both sides should, in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual understanding,make meaningful
and mutually acceptable adjustments to their respective positions on the boundary question, so as to arrive at a package settlement to the boundary question.


The two sides will give due
consideration to each other’s strategic and reasonable interests, and theprinciple of mutual and
equal security.


The two sides will take into account, inter alia, historical evidence,
national sentiments, practical difficulties and reasonable concerns andsensitivities of both sides, and the actual state of
border areas.


The boundary should be along well-defined and easily identifiable naturalgeographical features to
be mutually agreed upon between the two sides.


Pending an ultimate settlement of the boundary question, the two sides should strictly respect and observe the line ofactual control and work together to maintain
peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

The special interlocutor added that he hoped the two nations would never go to war again. 

'In the China-India boundary negotiations, although we have not yet arrived at the summit - that is, we have not reached full agreement on the framework of settlement of the border question - yet we have scaled substantial heights and made much progress,' he declared. 

The Indian delegation also included foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, the country's envoy to China, S. Jaishankar as well as the representatives of the ministries of external affairs and defence. 

The only forward movement during the interaction was that Dai and Menon agreed to put in place a mechanism for border management to discuss intrusions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). 

The mechanism was mooted by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to India in 2010. 

The present arrangements under the peace and tranquillity agreement between the two countries include communication channels between local-level commanders along the LAC. 

The joint border mechanism will focus specifically on how it will function on a routine basis, particularly for taking spot decisions. It would, however, not replace existing border interactions. 

This mechanism may create a plan beyond just the maintenance of peace along the LAC that was enunciated by the 1993 and 1996 agreements. 

In 1993, India and China signed an accord to reduce tension along their border and respect the LAC. The boundary settlement process was originally envisaged as a three-step process. 

The first was to establish guiding principles, the second included evolving a consensus on a framework for the boundary and the last step comprised carrying out its delineation and demarcation. 

The SR-level dialogue was initially scheduled for November 28-29 last year. It had to be postponed after India and China disagreed over the Dalai Lama's participation in the Global Buddhist Congregation in Delhi on those very dates. 

This was the 15th round of boundary negotiations which commenced in 2003 and have remained inconclusive. It came just ahead of a report accessed by Headlines Today that said that over 500 Chinese intrusions had taken place in the last two years on all the three sectors of the boundary. 

In fact, allegations of contravention by Chinese troops were common in 2009 and 2010. 



The hotspot


In 2005, the two sides agreed on political parameters and guiding principles for a boundary settlement, which would form the basis of the final settlement. Insiders say the Chinese gameplan was to put pressure on India to reassert claims over territory. 

At the centre of the Sino- Indian boundary dispute is the McMahon Line which the Chinese refuse to recognise. While China claims over 90,000 sq km of territory, the Indian claim extends over 3,68,846 sq km.

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