Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Borders Do Exist

The biggest possible irritant in Sino-Indian relations is surely the border dispute. India and China share a 2000-km border that was the scene of a bitter was in 1962: one that India lost, but used that loss to learn some valuable lessons. Thus was born RAW and died our firm belief that the Himalayas were impenetrable.

However, post-Pokhran, the dynamics have changed. It is highly unlikely that any war will ever break out between the two, though the two Armed Forces do stay prepared. What is far more irritating is China's aggressive moves on Indian territory.

Pakistan, in its invasion of the then free kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir, unilaterally and illegally ceded Aksai Chin to China, which it has controlled ever since. China, on a very flimsy ground, also claims Tawang. Or so it did until a few years back, when it stated claiming the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh and started referring to it as 'Southern Tibet.' China has even gone as far as protesting the Prime Minister's visit to the state.

China also shows a rather loving attitude towards PoK, which by Pakistan's rhetoric should also be disputed territory. Yet, unlike India, where general Indian citizens cannot become domicile of J&K, Pakistan treats PoK like its own province and goes as far as allowing the PLA to enter the region for "assistance." These are some of the major irritants.

Now, it is fashionable to say that we should set the boundary dispute aside and discuss it at a later time. But this is unsustainable. 14 seemingly failed rounds of negotiations show that neither side is prepared to budge, while China's rhetoric has gotten more and more aggressive.

Overall, I believe that India can never really trust China on boundaries and needs to be constantly vigil. We must assert our territorial integrity with confidence, as we have been doing so far. For its part, China must see that none of its neighbours is happy with its "peaceful rise," as the recent ASEAN+ Summit brought out, and more aggression will alienate Asia even further: and America will gladly fill in the void.

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