India and China could replicate military protocols set up during Sino-Russia border negotiations to minimise conflict as both countries continue protracted talks to resolve their boundary dispute, a top Chinese expert has said.
There are lessons in avoiding conflict to be learnt from the way China and Russia resolved their boundary issue after negotiating for decades.
“China successfully solved the problem with the Soviet Union despite difficulties such as the collapse of the Soviet Union. All border issues have been solved except the ones with India and Bhutan,” Xing Guangcheng, director general of the Institute of Frontier Science at the influential Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told Hindustan Times.
Two military and disarmament protocols implemented by China and Russia in the mid-1990s could be replicated in the Sino-Indian talks to settle boundary differences.
“From the negotiations, we built mutual trust with Russia and came out with two important protocols - the Border Area Military Trust Protocol in 1996 and the Border Area Disarmament Protocol. I think the protocols can also be applied to the Sino-India border problem,” Xing said.
The negotiations between the Soviet Union and China were not moving forward, he said, till then President Mikhail Gorbachev came to China in 1989.
“After that, the negotiations became more meaningful as both countries started to work pragmatically to settle the border issues. Soon after that in 1992, the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia joined the three countries of Central Asian and continued the negotiation in the ’4+1 pattern’,” he said.
After several rounds of talks and the two protocols to maintain peace along the border, the problem was finally settled, he said.
Xing – an expert on China’s border history and designated “cultural elite” by the government -- was in Lhasa to take part in the recently held Tibet Development Forum.
He said India and China currently have good mechanisms for communication but will have to focus on controlling flare-ups.
For one, the two countries have implemented the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement aimed at controlling incidents along the boundary.
There are three disputed regions along the frontier and tension in one can escalate tensions along the entire boundary, Xing said.
“Unless completely resolved, the whole border issue would continue to be a sensitive status. There are three disputed areas along the Sino-India border, among them one stretch in Tibet and another in Xinjiang. The border issue is actually a whole, the tension in one area will stimulate pressure and tension (along the entire border),” he said.
“For now the most important thing is that both countries should implement effective border control in case of an emergency such as military conflicts. Some conflicts have taken place between China and India in recent years, for example the tent confrontation between Chinese and Indian armies,” he said.
Xing said both countries lost early opportunities to settle the border issue after becoming independent during the late 1940s.
“But now the two counties have fought a war and regional disputes also exist. We still have to work together to strengthen mutual trust and political ties to properly settle the border problem,” he said.