Global Insider: The India-China Border Conflict

India has reportedly drafted plans to increase its military presence along its border with China. In an email interview, Jabin T. Jacob, assistant director of the Institute of Chinese Studies in Delhi, India, and the assistant editor of China Report, discussed the state of the India-China border conflict.

WPR: What are the core unresolved issues regarding the India-China border?

Jabin T. Jacob: The main point of contention in the Sino-Indian boundary dispute was originally the Aksai Chin area in the Indian northwest. China had built a road to Lhasa through the area, setting off the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962. This area remains in Chinese possession. In the late-1980s, however, the core of the dispute shifted eastward to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese claim and call “Southern Tibet.” It is not clear what set off this new Chinese emphasis, but there seem to be at least two factors. First, Arunachal is rich in mineral, water and timber resources and is therefore important for the economically underdeveloped Tibet Autonomous Region. Second, Tawang, a Buddhist-majority town in Arunachal, is the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama and is believed to have paid taxes to the traditional Tibetan administration in Lhasa. The emphasis on Tawang -- which has come to symbolize the dispute -- appears to be part of a Chinese attempt to reinforce its legitimacy in Tibet and to be seen as capable of defending Tibetan interests better than the present Dalai Lama.

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