Pro forma protests

Sit up and take note when China doesn’t protest, not when it does

There is no need to get too worked up about China registering its protests at President Pratibha Patil’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. As long as the border issue is not fully and finally settled, China will hold on to its position that parts of Arunachal Pradesh are really Chinese territories illegally occupied by India. So registering a protest pro forma is part of the routine. Not protesting would have been unusual: and India would see it as a ‘concession’. Just why would China concede anything just like that?

Nothwithstanding China’s protests, both the Indian prime minister and president have visited the state in the last couple of years.

For a good overview of the dispute and the way forward on its settlement, check out India China Relations: The Border Issue and Beyond by Mohan Guruswamy and Zorawar Daulet Singh, reviewed in the April 2009 issue of Pragati.

But China might not want a settlement of the border issue at this time, for the dispute itself is a containment device.

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