Border dispute solution: China prefers status quo, says book

New Delhi, Sep 14: There are few signs that China is willing to settle the boundary issue unless India completely subscribes to its world view and agrees to remain within its 'red lines' which is unlikely to happen, says a new book.

The boundary dispute is utilised by China for trying to coerce foreign policy changes by India that often have nothing to do with the dispute itself, the book, 'India-China Boundary Issues: Quest for Settlement' by former diplomat Ranjit Singh Kalha says.

Kalha, a former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry, had led India's negotiating team in the Boundary Sub-Group from 1985 to 1988. China has used the threat of intrusions across the LAC- as part of coercive diplomacy- in order to influence decisions in a way most desirable for it.

And that is also the principal reason why China does not desire an early conclusion, the book, published by Pentagon Press, says. Solution of the Sino-Indian border question is not a mere technical matter but rather a political and a strategic issue whose ramifications go well beyond the bilateral field.

If the Sino-Indian boundary question was merely a technical matter, it would have been resolved a long time ago, the author says. Policy changes take place after assessing whether such a change, subtle or otherwise, would lead to greater advantage or it would end in a disadvantage. No policy decisions are taken in isolation or are taken in vacuum.

"In other words, a boundary settlement is only possible if India were to remain within the 'red-lines' drawn by China, the book saysKalha says Chinese paranoia about India's intentions towards Tibet continues still, for whenever a Sino-Indian joint statement is envisaged, the Chinese insist that a sentence be incorporated stating that 'Tibet is part of China'.

The fact remains that there is continued strategic mistrust between the two countries, with no sign of any approaching convergence.

Therefore, China will continue its policy of keeping India strategically confined to South Asia with the active assistance of Pakistan, and strategically imbalanced by continuing incursions across the LAC on the border, the author says.

"It goes without saying that there are political factors present, both in India and China, that do favour a solution, but perhaps only under certain circumstances. In this context, it appears that policy makers, more so on the Chinese side may have taken the decision that present status quo is perhaps preferable than opting for a solution," the book says.

The author says it is indeed an anomaly as to why there is no settlement with India when all other similar boundary disputes with other states have been settled. "It is not as if there are no solutions possible, but there has to be a will, a reason and an inclination to settle," he says.

China has 22,000 km of land borders with 14 states. Of these, 12 have finally and conclusively settled their border disputes with the People's Republic.

Thus the Sino-Indian boundary question is perhaps the most important and the only dispute that remains to be settled despite decades-long period of negotiations that have taken place between the two countries, the book says.


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