Report on the Visit of a Delegation of Students from Tsinghua University, Beijing
to USI on 20 Jan 2016
A delegation of 20 Chinese students and 05 faculty members from the School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing attending short term certificate courses at Jindal School of International Affairs of OP Jindal Global University, Sonepat, visited the USI on 20 Jan 2016 for an interaction with USI Staff and Research Scholars on “Current State of Sino-Indian Relations”
The interaction included introductory remarks by Lt Gen PK Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Retd), Director USI and a presentation on “Sino-Indian Border Dispute” by Major General PJS Sandhu (Retd), Deputy Director and Editor USI, followed by a free flowing discussion on issues raised by both the sides. The brief details of the interaction between USI panel comprising Cmde Lalit Kapur (Retd) and Dr Roshan Khanijo, Senior Research Fellows are given in the succeeding paragraphs.
Introductory Remarks of Director USI
The Director during his introductory remarks touched on the following points :-
(a) Border Issue. Historically, India and China never shared a common border for centuries until China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Tibet in 1950-1951 to incorporate Tibet into People’s Republic of China (PRC). Thereafter, misunderstandings and disagreements on various issues led to the 1962 War. Since 1988, a number of agreements and confidence building measures have been initiated to resolve the border issue through dialogue.
(b) China’s Aid to Pakistan. India is not opposed to Sino-Pak friendship and financial aid to support its infrastructure but supply of arms and nuclear weapons technology has impacted adversely on India’s national security interests.
(c) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC passes through part of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) which has been under illegal occupation of Pakistan since 1947-48. India is therefore, concerned about the development activities undertaken by China in the Gilgit-Baltistan Region of J&K which is disputed. It needs to be remembered that following the tribal invasion by Pakistan, the State of J&K had acceded to India in 1947 through a valid ‘Instrument of Accession’.
(d) One Belt One Road (OBOR). Security dimensions of OBOR, linking China to Gwadar and Hambantota Ports, have compelled India to take requisite counter-measures to meet its maritime security interests.
(e) Permanent Membership of UN Security Council (UNSC). India was the first country to support China’s entry into UNSC. However, China has not supported India’s entry as a permanent member of the UNSC, although this would benefit the entire Asian Region on Global issues.
Presentation by DD&E, USI
The presentation by Maj Gen PJS Sandhu broadly covered the following aspects of the ‘Sino-Indian Border Dispute’ :-
(a) Background and genesis of the border dispute between the period from 1949 to 1962.
(b) The border dispute can be broadly described as under :-
(i) Western Sector. China claims whole of Aksai Chin and is in de-facto occupation of 38,000 Sq Kms of Indian territory which it occupied in 1962. In addition, as a result of 1963 China-Pak Border Agreement, Pakistan ceded to China Shaksgam Valley (5182 Sq Kms) which was part of J&K which has been under illegal occupation of Pakistan since 1947-48.
(ii) Central Sector. China claims approx. 2000 Sq Kms of territory, despite the border being well defined by the Himalayan watershed and the 1954 Trade Agreement in which various passes on the watershed as mutually agreed upon are clearly mentioned.
(iii) Eastern Sector. China does not recognise McMahon Line (even though the border dispute with Myanmar has been resolved based on this Line) and claims approx. 90,000 Sq Kms of Indian Territory which means almost the entire Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese position has also been changing over years.
Present Situation. Despite various Agreements, Confidence Building Measures and 17 round of talks between Special Representatives, the resolution is nowhere in sight. The main reasons are :-
(a) The border dispute is a legacy left over from history; it is extremely complex and full of sensitivities on both sides.
(b) Over the years, the positions of both sides have hardened and they are not able to make any concessions which would also be acceptable domestically (within respective countries).
(c) The question of Tibet and the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a large number of Tibetans in India casts a shadow on the state of overall relations. Even though India has made its position on Tibet clear a number of times, every time there is internal unrest in Tibet, China tends to point a needle of suspicion towards India.
(d) Occasional face-offs on the Line of Actual Control continue to occur in spite of all the confidence building measures because there is no clarity on the definition or alignment of the Line of Actual Control on ground.
(e) Having fought a war and failure to resolve the border dispute, there is a feeling of mutual distrust which continues to prevail in bilateral relations.
He concluded his presentation by highlighting that despite these conflicting concerns, the annual trade between India and China in 2015 was over 71 billion US dollars. However, the huge imbalance in bilateral trade in favour of China inhibits the realisation of the true trade potential between two large neighbours.
During the interactive session, the students raised a number of perceptive issues and views were exchanged in a free and frank manner.
Issues Raised by Chinese Students
(a) Is India satisfied with the present political system in the Country? Is it not slow? One party system in China has provided stability by getting things done quickly to facilitate rapid economic development.
(b) What is the role of USI in improving Sino-Indian relations? How does it function and what is the source of funds?
(c) How does the multi-party political system in India influence governance to keep pace with rapid changes in the world?
(d) Why is there is no ‘Security Architecture’ in South Asia?
(e) In tri-lateral relations, between China-America-India, does India see itself as a ‘swing state’ on core issues involving big powers of the world?
(f) In India, land belongs to private individuals. Is it not hard for the Government to deal with this? Why should it not belong to the Government?
(g) Why is China not being admitted into SAARC?
(h) How has the opinion in India about China changed over the years?
(j) China sees India’s support to the Dalai Lama as interference in her internal affairs. How would India benefit if Tibet separates from China?
Concluding Remarks by Director USI
In response to the question on Tibet, the Director explained the Indian position in some detail. He emphasised that lately China claiming the whole of the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet has added a new dimension to the Tibetan question. If such a position had been stated by China in 1950s, the Indian response would have been quite different and the Tibet question could not have been taken as settled. China ought to reconsider its position and claims regarding the so called ‘South Tibet’.
Lt Gen PK Singh thanked the OP Jindal Global University, Sonepat for organising the visit of Chinese students and faculty from Tsinghua University to USI. The free and frank articulation of views by both sides to address various issues raised by either side during the interaction would go a long way in facilitating a better understanding between two great ancient civilisations in the Asian Continent. He also conveyed his appreciation to the Chinese students for raising very pertinent issues which were responded to without any inhibitions by the USI panelists.
The proceedings ended with OP Jindal University presenting a memento to the Director USI, and he, in turn, presenting a USI memento along with a set of eight books on World War I published by USI to the visiting delegation from Tsinghua University, Beijing.
|Introductory Remarks by Lt Gen PK Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Retd), Director USI|
|Presentation by Maj Gen PJS Sandhu (Retd), Deputy Director & Editor, USI|
|Chinese Students from Tsinghua University, Beijing|
|Presentation of Institutional Mementoes|
Report compiled by Lt Col BS Varma (Retd), Assistant Director at USI.
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