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Let border locals trade more with India, proposes Chinese legislator

China should allow its citizens staying along the border to trade with Indians, a legislator has proposed, adding that increase in cross-border trade could benefit the locals, reduce hostility.

world Updated: Mar 15, 2019 19:38 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Bejing
A file photo of Xinhua News Agency, shows Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj at a meeting in Wuzhen Town, east China's Zhejiang Province. (AP)

China should allow its citizens staying along the border to trade with Indians through Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims to be part of south Tibet, a legislator has proposed, adding that an increase in cross-border trade could benefit locals, reduce hostility between the two militaries and improve bilateral ties.

Increased cross-border trade through the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) will also “showcase” the region’s achievements to India and other countries, An Ran, a professor at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou and legislator with the National People’s Congress (NPC) told the tabloid Global Times.

India and China conduct land trade through a handful of areas along the long and disputed border.

According to data from India’s Commerce ministry, published in January this year, land trade between India and China in 2017-18 was at $3.16 million.

There’s scope for that statistics to improve, the Chinese legislator feels though she didn’t share details of the proposal or whether it was feasible in the first place.

An said her proposal was based on field work conducted by a group of researchers from Yunnan University in Southwest China.

Yunnan Province borders the Tibet region, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

Trade through the Tibet is often hampered because of the military-to-military tension along the border, the team members found during their fieldwork.

Professor Guo Jianbin, the group’s team leader, told the tabloid that his team surveyed some counties in TAR to get some insight into the ground realities.

Guo found that “…because the militaries of China and India in the illegal ‘McMahon Line’ are tight, residents in the border areas are not allowed to cross the line freely. However, in some areas, some residents, mainly those from the Lhoba ethnic minority group, have crossed the ‘line’ to trade”.

Guo said: “We found that the villages in the border areas have wide roads and a clean environment. If China allows residents living on the other side to trade, all these achievements and developments will help better unite the residents in border areas”.

The three existing land trading points between India and China are Nathu La (Sikkim), Lipulekh (Uttarakhand) and Namgiya Shipkila (Himachal Pradesh).

But the Indian government might not be keen to further increase trade with China through land borders.

It is possible that if the points and scope of land trade is widened, cheap Chinese commodities would flood India’s border regions.

Chinese goods are already widely available in the border areas but expanded trade could lead to the goods flooding the market.

First Published: Mar 15, 2019 18:33 IST