Genesis of India-China border dispute
India and China are among top five economies in the world and therefore any dispute between these two countries can never be ignored. Being the world’s largest democracy, India has always propagated peace in the world and the region. For, it respects the sovereignty of other nations. However, the same is not true in the case of China. There is no country in Asia except Pakistan which has peaceful relation with China. Countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan, Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia near South China Sea have territorial dispute with China. Therefore, it is clear that China’s illegal occupational practice is the only reason behind the entire territorial disputes between the two countries. If we look at the China’s illegal occupation, it has occupied Aksai Chin, an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Arunachal Pradesh and the north-east have also been occupied by China. In August 2017, China deliberately tried to change the status quo in Doklam plateau near the trijunction of India, Bhutan and China. Due to this, there was border standoff between both countries. Having said that, the questione arises, when there are many territorial disputes between both the powers, could these ever be resolved? It’s a big question.
Recently, a discussion was held on this contentious issue, in which several panelists participated.
Speaking on this issue Seshadri Chari, former editor of Organiser weekly, said,” India and China are two most ancient civilisations. The best advantage is that we both can go 5000-10,000 years back to the history. A number of times we have been into each other. So we know each other’s history and geography and we know the dispensations time to time. We have shared some of the best moments together. Most of our history has been recorded and most of it practically unrecorded. Neither China knows the record of India, nor does India know the record of China. Therefore, what is boundary for them is not boundary for us and what is boundary for us is not boundary for them.”
Speaking on military as a solution of this long dispute, he added that earlier the strength of a country was determined by the area of land. This is the reason why we know about the British colony, French colony. But after the advent of the First and Second World Wars, it was not the land and boundary which determined the strength of a country, but it was the military might. So, you could change border. You could own them. You could claim them. Your map depends on the strength of your army. Now the situation has changed, the strength lies in not that area you hold, not the military might you hold, but the control of mind and the economy. And both China and India are into the third phase. So the dispute here is not what you posses, but what you control.
“Now if we go to the border dispute or boundary dispute, it may go for some more times. Diplomacy is going to resolve this issue? If resolves, to what extent? What resolution would be acceptable for both the countries? And when we say both the countries, does it mean only the government of these two countries? Or these dispensations of these two countries? Or the people of these two countries? Or to the satisfaction of all those who are dealing with those? Therefore, it’s a big issue we are talking about. So in these circumstances, it is very difficult to determine the status of the talks. Therefore, both the countries would be looking at the strength and weakness of each other to resolve this issue. And this is the reason, it will take many more years,” Chari opined.
Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary and Indian Ambassador to the United States & Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom , also presented his views on this issue. He said that the land dispute between China and India is the mother of all boundary disputes. In these seven decades, it was started soon after the People’s Republic of China was established. Talks took place at the level of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Zhou Enlai. Then India-China war took place. Since then total 45 rounds of formal discussion have been held between both of these countries and the net result is ‘Zero’. Because not a single kilometre of the boundary has been resolved or demarcated. China has illegally occupied 38,000 square kilometres of land in Aksai Chin. 5000 square kilometres of land it has occupied in Shaksgam Valley. Where is the the question of dispute between both countries, the simple answer is that the issue has been resolved in China’s terms. The de facto border is the line of actual control- Not the Indian LAC but the Chinese LAC. It would be the realistic assessment that not a single inch of Chinese-occupied territory will ever come back to India. What has happened is that for China this has ceased to be a strategic issue and tactical diversion to keep Indian military and resources tie down from LAC to LOC.
“What we need to do in meeting the threat of China is that China has to be identified as an adversary number one so far as the national aspirations are concerned. Deal with China with strict reciprocity. If they don’t subscribe to the territorial integrity of India, it is not necessary for us to reaffirm the one China policy that say Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang are part of China. More rigorous diplomatic exercise should be propagated,” Mansingh emphasised.
By Ravi Mishra