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India-China tensions rise over territory

August 31, 2009

Shaikh Azizur Rahman, Foreign Correspondent
The National (UAE)
August 29, 2009

Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies
at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi,
said India-China border tensions, largely unknown
to the rest of the world, were ominous.

"Things are getting really intense and from the
Indian perspective outrageous. Any doubts that
the Indian foreign policy establishment might
have had about the threat posed by China have
evaporated in recent months," he told media.

That China does not consider Arunachal Pradesh a
part of India became clear again in March when it
objected to a US$60 million (Dh220m) Asian
Development Bank loan to India because part of
the money was meant for Arunachal Pradesh.

A report this month in China’s official newspaper
Global Times said that if the border dispute was
not addressed by Beijing properly “the result
will only be blamed by generations to come."

"China won’t sacrifice its sovereignty in
exchange for friendship. Therefore, India should
not have any illusions with regards to this issue,” the report said.

Ahead of every bilateral meeting during the past
six years, expectations were raised that the
dispute would be resolved soon. But the 13th
round of the meetings held in New Delhi this
month failed to reach a breakthrough.

Just before these talks, the Hong Kong-based
Chinese newspaper Ming Pao reported that China
was prepared to give up its claims over Arunachal
Pradesh if India dropped its claim to a 33,000 sq
km area of Aksai Chin, which is on the border of
northern Jammu and Kashmir state and is currently under China’s control.

Beijing also wanted New Delhi to concede 2,000 sq
km of territory that it currently holds in the
middle part of the disputed western stretch, the paper said.

But the Chinese foreign ministry called the report groundless.

Jiang Yu, a Chinese government spokesman, said
China was "willing to work with India to seek a
fair and mutually acceptable resolution” to the
border dispute and hoped the discussions would
further strengthen the "strategic partnership" between the two countries.

At the end of this month’s talks, however,
experts did not see any sign of progress in the border issue.

In a Mail Today article headlined "Talks with
China are not heading anywhere," a former Indian
foreign secretary, Kanwal Sibal, wrote that years
of efforts to resolve the border dispute had "produced no visible result."

"Despite high-level visits on both sides, some
military contacts, burgeoning trade and
convergence of thinking on global issues like
climate change and WTO negotiations, the
underlying mutual distrust [between the two
countries] has increased, rather than decreased,
in recent years,” Mr Sibal wrote.

A day after the talks ended, on the site of the
International Institute of Strategic Studies, an
organisation reportedly close to the Chinese
military, an article appeared calling for India
to be split into 30 independent nation states.

"To split India, China can bring into its fold
countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan ...
back aspirations of Indian nationalities like
Tamil and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a
push to the independence of West Bengal and
lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in
southern Tibet [Arunachal Pradesh],” the report said.

India’s foreign ministry took the article so
seriously it issued a statement saying the two
countries had agreed to “resolve outstanding
issues, including the boundary question, through
peaceful dialogue and consultations, and with
mutual sensitivity to each other’s concerns … and
[the controversial article] appears to be an
expression of individual opinion and does not
accord with the officially stated position of China”.

But D S Rajan, an Indian expert on Chinese
issues, said the article could not have been
published without permission from Chinese authorities.

"However, Beijing will wash its hands out of this
if the matter [of the article] is taken up by New
Delhi," Mr Rajan, the director of the Chennai
Centre for China Studies, told Indian media,
adding that ignoring the article could "prove to be costly" for India.
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