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India's China Problem

As it catches up to its neighbor and arch-rival, India finds its safety compromised, writes Gordon G Chang.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2009 15:19 IST

China and India wrapped up their 13th round of border talks on Saturday in New Delhi. The meeting produced agreements on various matters, such as the installation of a hot line between the Chinese and Indian capitals and plans to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic ties next year. The two nations also agreed to expand bilateral trade, hoping to meet their target of $60 billion for 2010, a substantial increase over last year's $51.8 billion.

Yet there was no progress when it came to the main subject for discussion--competing territorial claims in Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin. Beijing and New Delhi are no closer to settling disputes that led the two giants to war in 1962 and that have, in recent years, hampered relations. Chinese officials see their nation on the rise and feel no need to compromise. The number of incursions by China's troops into Indian-controlled territory appears to be increasing.

India, generally acknowledged as the weaker of the two, has tried to maintain cordial ties, often following former Prime Minister Nehru's "Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai" slogan, promoting the notion that the two Asian nations are brothers. Beijing, for its part, has been under no such delusions, playing a hard game. In the middle of the 1970s, it began helping Pakistan build a nuclear weapon to keep arch-rival India off balance. Since then, the Chinese have supported Islamabad's campaign of terror against the Indian state.

The terrorists attacking Mumbai hotels last November used Chinese equipment--the distinctively blue Type 86 grenades, manufactured by China's state-owned Norinco, which has continually supplied parties working with militants inside India. China has given Pakistan most of the ordinance that its notorious Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence--better known as ISI--gives to terrorist groups. Almost all of the sophisticated communications equipment used by terrorists in India, especially Kashmir, is Chinese-made and was routed through the Pakistani army. The training the Chinese give to Pakistani personnel is, with Beijing's knowledge, leached to terrorists. Furthermore, in April and May 2006, May 2007 and August 2008, China blocked U.N. sanctions against and censure of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front, Jammat-ud-Dawa, the organizations responsible for the horrible hotel attacks.

No wonder the Indians are starting to reassess their ties with Beijing. Although it is unlikely the Chinese will attack India before 2012, as Bharat Verma, editor of India's leading defense journal, predicted last month, the Indians can expect tougher Chinese actions in the years ahead.

This month, Zhan Lue, a Chinese analyst connected to China's Ministry of National Defense, suggested that Beijing try to divide India into as many as 30 states. The article, unfortunately, appears to represent the thinking of Chinese strategists and has been widely circulated inside China.

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