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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China making border row an emotive issue?

June 29, 2011

Saibal Dasgupta, TNN | Jun 25, 2011, 05.29am IST


BEIJING: For the first time in Sino-Indian discourse, a Chinese foreign ministry advisor has acknowledged the existence of "emotional" content to the border row. This is highly significant because negotiators have long considered technical issues like the mapping of boundary line as the main obstacle to the resolution of the dispute.

"If sentiments are hurt, it will not help in settling this issue," said Ma Zhengang, member, Policy Advisory Group of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, here on Friday. The statement poses fresh challenge for Indian negotiators as this is a rare instance of the Chinese establishment throwing up an emotive issue. Xu referred to what he considers an important sentence in the joint statement signed by prime ministers of the two countries in 2005. It says both sides should make meaningful adjustment based on Line of Actual Control.

"We have mapped out the general direction of the settlement of border issue," Xu said. He made no mention of another sentence in the joint statement which says there will be no changes in populated areas along the border, which would refer to the densely populated Tawang area in Arunachal Pradesh. Although Tawang is claimed by China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Premier Wen Jiabao agreed in 2005 that it would be impossible to alter the national allegiance of populated areas on the border.

" Beijing appears to be distancing itself from this aspect of the Singh-Wen agreement. This is clear from Xu's statement that underscores the aspect of meaningful adjustment while keeping quiet about the issue concerning populated areas," a source said.

Another expert, Qu Xing, who heads state-run China Institute of International Studies, called for a new perspective in the three-cornered relationship involving China, Pakistan and India. He also indicated that a powerful section in the Chinese establishment is trying to re-evaluate the border issue in a different light.

Chinese experts said New Delhi must not worry about Beijing's relationship with Pakistan and other countries in South Asia because these are not meant to target India. "Both India and China must create an enabling environment for the settlement of the issue and try to avoid spreading negative factors having negative impact," Ma said. "There have been many negative arguments voiced on the border issue in recent times," he said.

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