08/07/2009, 00.00
CHINA – INDIA

Sino-Indian border talks resume

Border disputes have lingered since 1962. Beijing claims almost the whole of the State of Arunachal Pradesh, whilst India claims more than 50,000 km2 of Chinese-held territory. Meanwhile both sides are building up their military along the border.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China and India will resume high-level negotiations after a year's break to resolve a border dispute left outstanding since the 1962 war. Talks will take place today and tomorrow in New Delhi, with delegations lead by China’s State Councillor Dai Bingguo and Indian national security adviser M. K. Narayanan (pictured). But experts remain pessimistic about any possible breakthrough.

The talks will not be easy, especially against a backdrop of acrimony over China’s military build-up in Tibet and Xinjiang and Beijing’s and India’s deployment of additional troops and beefed up air defences in Arunachal Pradesh.

Indian officials have also expressed concerns over the Qinghai-Tibet railway and its proposed extension to Xigaze and Nyingchi, prefectures that border India.

China claims about 90,000 square kilometres in India's northeast, including most of Arunachal Pradesh, which it likes to call South Tibet.

India claims about 43,180 square kilometres in the Aksai Chin region, bordering the northern Kashmir state, including 5,180 square kilometres handed over to the Chinese by Pakistan in 1963, something China deeply resents.

The 13th round of talks began with genuine interest on both sides to smooth relations. Many Indian media also decided not “demonise” their powerful neighbour. But Indian Foreign Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna called for caution saying that immediate results are not likely, that "time and patience” were needed.

China's ambassador to India Zhang Yan, who described the two countries as “great neighbours”, said that growing economic relations between the nations called for the utmost political wisdom in handling existing problems. Still his words belie recent vituperative attacks on India in China's state-run media.

In fact for Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, “China's objective is to keep India engaged in endless and fruitless border talks so that Beijing, in the meantime, can change the Himalayan balance decisively in its favour through development of military power and infrastructure.”

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