Friday, 13 January 2012

China and India restart attempts to settle border

China and India have announced a new round of talks over their long and disputed border, following further tensions.

The new talks are not, strictly speaking, new – they are rescheduled from late November, when Beijing cancelled discussions over India's hosting of a conference attended by the Dalai Lama.

A host of issues are expected to be addressed in the fifteenth round of negotiations, which will be conducted by the respective Special Representatives Dai Bingguo and Shivshankar Menon. The land border between them, which is around 4,000km long, is disputed in both the west and the east. In the west, China does not recognise India's claims to Jammu and Kashmir; in the east, the two sides disagree over the status of the Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh.

India has also accused China of constructing military infrastructure in the border regions and boosting its troop presence there. Recently, a senior Indian general announced that in July 2011 Chinese forces damaged a wall along the border, which VK Singh dismissed as “a childish act” and said that in the event of a serious incident, “there will be enough noise and bloodshed and everyone will come to know”.

For some time the Special Representatives have failed to make headway on demarcating the border. Neither side appears to be willing to risk the political damage that would occur from compromising over territory. As border incidents remain rare, both Beijing and New Delhi seem to prefer to leave the status quo in place whilst they concentrate on building their bilateral relationship.

China has struck a conciliatory tone over the border, with Special Representative Bingguo insisting that disputes should be settled “wisely, calmly and properly”.

Sources: Times of India, Wall Street Journal

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