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No plan to give up Arunachal claim: China

August 10, 2009

By Saibal Dasgupta
The Times of India
August 9, 2009

BEIJING, China, Aug 8 -- Ming Pao, a Chinese
newspaper in Hong Kong, has caused some amount of
embarrassment for Chinese authorities by saying
that Beijing was prepared to give up its claims
over Arunachal Pradesh provided New Delhi allowed
China to retain its control over Aksai Chin in the western sector.

China wants just 28 per cent of the 120,000
square kms of disputed area, it said. Beijing
also wants New Delhi to concede 2,000 sq kms of
territory that it now holds in the middle part of
the disputed zone, which China regards as part of
the Tibetan plateau besides allowing it to hold
on to 33,000 sq kms of Aksai Chin, Ming Pao said.
Going by this report, settlement of the border
row is round the corner if India agreed to cede just 2,000 kms of territory.

The report has been strongly refuted by the
Chinese foreign ministry, which described it as
groundless. Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said
China is willing to make joint efforts with India
in the spirit of mutual understanding and
accommodation to seek a fair, reasonable and
mutually acceptable solution to the issue.

Fu Xiaoqiang, a scholar at the state-run China
Institute of Contemporary International
Relations, was quoted by the official media as
saying that the Ming Paoreport actually reflected
India’s position on the border dispute.

The comments by the influential Ming Pao, which
also has two editions in Canada, came just before
Indian national security advisor MK Narayanan and
Chinese state councilor Dai Bingguo began the
13th round of border negotiations in New Delhi on Friday.

The report gives some idea about Beijing’s
desperation to hold on to the Aksai Chin area,
which is connected to the troubled Xinjiang
bordering Pakistan. Xinjiang, which recently saw
bloody riots, has been the hotbed of a separatist
movement seeking to create an independent East Turkmenistan nation.

Though Hong Kong newspapers enjoy a lot of press
freedom as compared to the state-controlled media
regime in mainland China, the Ming Pao report
caused a good amount of embarrassment to Chinese
authorities. Chinese officials usually give no
hint of what is on their mind on sensitive issues including the border talks.

Ming Pao said Beijing was prepared to concede 72
per cent of the disputed area but India was
adamant about having all of it. It advised
Chinese authorities to avoid taking rash
decisions lest they are criticized by future generations.
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