D. S. Rajan: China defines its borders – Lesson for India?
In the backdrop of the just concluded 15th Session of the China-India Joint Working Group (JWG) on the boundary issue at Beijing, the likely next meeting soon between the Special Representatives from the two sides to discuss the issue and the impending visit to India of the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Wen Jiabao from April 9, 2005, it is not surprising that the specific issue of Sino-Indian border , is once again receiving sharp international attention. In fact, an air of expectancy has come to prevail in the context of signs of a new flexibility on the part of China concerning the border. The PRC, has for the first time, listed ‘accommodation of reality’ as a basis for a solution to the boundary question (Premier Wen, Beijing, March 14).
At such a juncture when the Sino-Indian border talks appear to have reached a crucial stage, in a seemingly unrelated development, the PRC has come out with its theoretical definition of its borders, which speaks volumes about the Chinese mindset on territorial issues in general. Undoubtedly, the definition, given through an article in an on-line publication of a government-affiliated think-tank, would be an eye opener for all the governments, including that of India, which are involved in holding border talks with China.
The authoritative article in question (in Chinese language), has appeared in the Website of the China Borderland History Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), an institution believed close to the PRC Government, on March 31,2005 (being continuously carried in the site since June 17,2004). Written by a senior scholar of the Centre Ma Dazheng , it defines China’s land and sea border areas in terms of a multiplicity of factors like geography ,history, politics, military, economy and culture. Unless such a composite view is taken, it may not be possible to correctly comprehend the nature of China’s borders, the article asserts.