Lan Jianxue: India must settle border dispute through talks

China Daily | 作者: Lan Jianxue | 时间: 2020-06-23 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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Tensions on the China-India border started rising in early May after Indian troopsin violation of the Line of Actual Control, the yet to be demarcated Sino-Indian borderintruded into Chinese territory in Galwan Valley in the Aksai Chin area, and illegally built fortifications there. That triggered a stand-off between Chinese and Indian troops.

Given the rising tensions on the border, China managed to arrange for a commander-level meeting of the two border forces on June 6, where both sides agreed to resolve their border disputes peacefully.

But instead of exercising restraint as China did, the Indian troops on Monday evening violated the consensus of the two sides, crossed the border illegally twice and carried out provocative attacks on Chinese troops, resulting in a fierce physical confrontation between the two border forces, causing casualties on both sides.

In response to India's provocative actions, Beijing has lodged a strong protest with New Delhi while tightening border control, in order to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to restore tranquility and peace along the LAC.

The Sino-Indian border stand-off was triggered by India's ambitious policy to encroach upon its neighbors' territories. The revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's constitutional autonomy and carving up of Ladakh as a separate Union Territory directly governed by New Delhi in August 2019 were harbingers of India's ambitious policy.

After the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party won an overwhelming victory in the election to the lower house of the Indian parliament in May last year, it has been pushing forward its ultranationalist Hindutva agendas one after another through aggressive domestic and foreign policies. The unilateral change of Kashmir's autonomous status by India heightened tensions with Pakistan, while the inclusion of Chinese territory into its so-called newly formed Union Territory of Ladakh triggered the confrontation with China on the border. And India's ties with Nepal have soured recently over a road India has built through what Nepal claims is its territory to connect with a Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage site in China's Tibet.

With countries worldwide, including China, grappling with the novel coronavirus pandemic, India seems to have miscalculated that China would compromise its territorial integrity, especially because New Delhi believes Washington will come to its help thanks to its "China-containment" strategy.

But India underestimated China's firm will to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its "salami slicing" of Chinese territory and buildup of strategic infrastructure such as roads and bridges in eastern Ladakh on the Chinese side suffered a head-on blow along the LAC.

Since the Sino-Indian border is yet to be demarcated, it is not surprising that occasional scuffles take place along the LAC between the two sides, but such scuffles are indeed glaring because China has peacefully settled its land border disputes with 12 of its 14 neighbors.

Beijing and New Delhi should not let their border confrontation spiral out of control and snowball into a full-fledged conflict. As the world's two largest developing countries each with a population of more than 1.3 billion, China and India face tough challenges in boosting their economies and improving the peoples' livelihoods.

Besides, the two countries share common interests in the multilateral trade system, global economic recovery, global governance system reform, and in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

India, on its part, should restrain its front-line troops and instruct them not to cross the LAC and worsen the situation. Before the border dispute is settled and the Sino-Indian boundary is demarcated, Beijing and New Delhi should work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas according to the consensuses reached by their leaders.

China will continue to maintain peace and stability along the LAC, while responding appropriately to border intrusions. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Indian diplomatic ties, and during the past seven decades the two sides have made many mutually beneficial achievements.

Moreover, despite the border confrontation, the situation along the LAC remains under control.

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an interview with Hindustan Times in April 2018, "there have been occasional incidents in the border areas due to differing perceptions about the Line of Actual Control. However, both countries have always managed to resolve these incidents through dialogue on the ground as well as through diplomatic channels... This shows that India and China are both mature countries, capable of peacefully resolving our differences".

It is hoped that India will abide by that statement.



Source: China Daily, June 20, 2020.




Lan Jianxue is deputy director of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies at China Institute of International Studies.