Rumblings on China border by Mohammed Ataur Rahman (SEPTEMBER 14, 2009)

Earlier this month the Cabinet Committee on Security met at the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss the growing incidence of Chinese land and air incursion in Indian territory. There have been far more incursions in Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet, than in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region.

China claims 90,000 squire kilometres in Arunachal and 43,000 kilometres in Ladakh. Tamang, a major centre of Tibetan Budhism in Arunachal, has been in the eye of the storm. In 1962, China had briefly extended control over Tamang following a war with India, which was disasterous and humiliating for this country.

Massive troop build-up involving 50,000 soldiers, a large number of tanks and military aircraft on the Chinese side is a matter of concern for India. However, external affairs minister SM Krishna assuaged the country’s worry saying there was a proper system through which India kept Beijing informed about incursions and sorted them out amicably. He said there was no reason to worry.

Still people have enough reason to worry about China’s intent. “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai” (Indians and Chinese are brothers) was a slogan that came in the wake of Bandung Non-Aligned Conference of 1957 and the then Chinese prime minister Chou en Lai’s visit to India.

India was complacent when the 1962 war with China brought great humiliation to this country. This time India is vigilant as the strengthening of our defences in Arunachal and Ladakh region of J&K show. In fact, some observers believe that the Chinese incursions are a normal reaction to India’s military preparedness in the border areas.

Another reason for the problem is the unsettled nature of the India-China border. The Chinese have settled border disputes with nine countries. Even after the war in 1962 the India-China border solution remains intractable.

The 13th round of India-China border talks in the first week of August failed to move towards any tangible result as far as the border issue is concerned. However, they agreed to build their present bilateral trade of about 53 billion to $60 billion by 2010. They also agreed to observe the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic ties next year.

The present tension in their relations is also because of their desire to expand their area of influence in the neighbourhood and to project economic and military power.

Mohammed Ataur Rahman

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