09/18/2009, 00.00
CHINA – INDIA
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Arunachal Pradesh an integral part of India, Indian minister says

India’s External Affairs Minister Krishna reiterates India’s position on Chinese-claimed region. Almost one armed incident per day occurs along the 3,500 Indo-Chinese border. Both Asian giants have an interest in living and developing peacefully side by side, but their relationship lacks “mutual trust”.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – “Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India [. . .] And the integrity of India's sovereignty will certainly have to be respected,” Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said in an interview to a TV network as he reasserted India’s position on the border region disputed with China, which it claims as its own with equal steadfastness.

"India's borders are safe,” the minister added. "Indian armed forces are capable of defending its frontiers.” At the same time, the two countries are mature and responsible enough that they can find a solution to their border disputes.

Since their 1962 war, both nations have laid claims to vast swathes of each other's territory along their 3,500 km (2,173 mile) Himalayan border.

In 1962, Chinese troops overran some Indian positions in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh before a ceasefire. Beijing eventually withdrew to pre-war positions dividing the two countries along Arunachal Pradesh but still claims the 90,000 sq km of land on the eastern sector of this border, which Beijing calls ‘southern’ Tibet. On the western side of the border, Beijing however held onto to 38,000 sq km in Ladakh.

India instead claims that Beijing is illegally occupying 5,180 sq km of northern Kashmir ceded to it by Pakistan in 1963.

Indian media have reported a rise in the number of Chinese troop incursions, something denied by New Delhi.

Brahma Chellaney, professor at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, said that Chinese cross-border forays nearly doubled from 140 in 2006 to 270 in 2008 and have kept to that level this year.

Beijing has so far acknowledged that it is monitoring more tightly the borders of Tibet and Xinjiang regions, following outbreaks of deadly ethnic violence in both areas, blaming India’s media for stirring up tensions by “releasing inaccurate information.”

Beijing has rejected accusations that it is breaching the borders, saying instead that it is only trying to prevent Indian forces from doing so. If there is any blame for the rising number of incidents, it is India that is at fault for increasing its troop deployment along the border. India is in fact beefing up its presence in Arunachal Pradesh by sending an extra 30,000 troops.

None the less, China also upped tensions by opposing a US$ 60 million Asian Development Bank loan for a project in Arunachal Pradesh.

It is also indicated its opposition to a planned visit by Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to a Buddhist monastery in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in November, which it views as a deliberate provocation

At the same time though, Beijing has tried to show that it has little interest in stoking tensions, as it tries to reassure nervous Western nations that it can be trusted, even politically, and that now it is more concerned with celebrating the 60th anniversary of its Communist regime on 1 October.

Conversely, New Delhi has not yet fully accepted the 1962 defeat. The border issue and the giant shadow that China has cast on the Himalayan region remain controversial matters in India, often used by the opposition against the government.

Since 2005, the two nations have held 13 largely fruitless rounds of talks. Few experts expect much on the short or even medium term, especially since both nations have strongly reasserted their respective claims. But neither one has shown any desire to threaten their booming bilateral trade, which is expected to top US$ 60 billion next year.

"If you ask me what is the major problem between China and India, it is neither the border question, nor the Tibet question—it is the lack of mutual trust,” said Cheng Ruisheng, a former ambassador to India and now adviser to the Chinese government on relations with its neighbour.

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