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Anurag Kumar asked: Since China has resolved land border disputes with several of its neighbours, what could be the strategic thinking behind the delay in resolving the same with India?

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  • Prashant Kumar Singh replies: It is true that China has resolved its land border disputes with several of its neighbours, and has, often, settled for far much less than its initial territorial claims. However, ascribing non-resolution of the India-China border dispute to China’s supposed dilatory strategy is difficult to authoritatively argue. The two countries have conducted boundary talks in confidentiality. No confirmed details are available as to what has transpired in these talks. Assigning non-resolution of the dispute to a deliberate delay by China would tantamount to ignoring complexities involved in the dispute.

    The belief that China tactically avoids resolving the boundary dispute emanates from the understanding that China seeks to keep India under strategic pressure within South Asia. However, the Chinese counter-argument in that case would be as the boundary dispute has a Tibetan dimension, Tawang being the obvious reference, an early resolution of the issue would rather strengthen its position in restive Tibet. Thus, the two sides can have their own set of arguments to question each other’s sincerity towards resolving the dispute.

    Polemics apart, the pace of the resolution is basically hindered by the geographical complexities involved in the Himalayan border region, and lack of clarity on the two sides on what to give and what to take in a negotiated settlement. Finally, it is not so much about an ‘early’ or ‘delayed’ resolution of the dispute as it is about finding a mutually acceptable and an accommodative resolution, and in a way that could satisfy the nationalist sentiments on their respective sides. In fact, an early but a ‘hurried’ resolution might not serve India’s best interests.

    Posted on June 12, 2015