Monday, May 25, 2015

China doesn't recognise 'illegal' McMahon Line: Beijing responds to NSA Ajit Doval

NB: The Modi government might like us to forget that the 2003 Sino-Indian Joint declaration agreed to by A.B. Vajpayee was the furthest India has gone to accept China's sovereignty over Tibet. One view of this is that Vajpayee went this far in acknowledging Chinese sovereignty over Tibet in exchange for Chinese acceptance of Sikkim as part of India. Another view is that Vajpayee sold out Indian interests. From either perspective, 2003 statement was a gain for China. What is noteworthy is that China refers to Arunachal Pradesh as 'South Tibet' - and that the 2003 declaration strengthened its capacity to do so. Here is the operative paragraph: "The Indian side recognizes that the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China and reiterates that it does not allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India. The Chinese side expresses its appreciation for the Indian position and reiterates that it is firmly opposed to any attempt and action aimed at splitting China and bringing about “independence of Tibet”. The Indian side recalled that India was among the first countries to recognize that there is one China and its one China policy remains unaltered.."
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Sticking to its stand that McMahon Line on India-China boundary is "illegal", China said on Monday it is ready to work with India to resolve the vexed border issue at an early date through "friendly consultations" to create more favourable conditions for bilateral ties. "The Chinese side holds a consistent and clear position on the eastern section of the China-India boundary," foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, reaffirming Beijing's claims on Arunachal Pradesh, which it says is a part of 'Southern Tibet'. "The Chinese government does not recognise 'the McMahon Line', which is illegal," she said, reacting to national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval's remarks made at the KF Rustamji lecture in New Delhi recently.

"The Chinese side is ready to work with the Indian side to resolve the boundary question through friendly consultation at an early date and create more favourable conditions for the development of the bilateral relations," she said in a written response to a PTI query. In his address on May 22, Doval said settlement of the border issue is "critical" for India-China ties and called for a "larger plan" for "tackling" the issue to resolve all contentious matters. Doval, also the special representative of Sino-India boundary talks, said while ties with China are looking up, "we are particularly concerned about the Eastern sector where the claims have been made on Tawang (in Arunachal Pradesh) which is totally in contravention of accepted principles".

He also expressed surprise that while McMahon Line was agreed till Burma (Myanmar) by China, it was not accepted beyond it. The line that was agreed to by Britain and Tibet as part of the 1914 Simla Accord is named after Sir Henry McMahon, foreign secretary of the British-run government of India and the chief negotiator of settling disputes with China. "We have got a very long border, we have got 3,488km long border, a very difficult and mountainous terrain snow-clad... now for the bilateral relations with China, border is the critical and vital issue," Doval said.

In a guarded response, Hua skirted Doval's assertion that China recognised the McMahon Line in the case of Burma but not when it came to the Indian border. She said "it is not easy to resolve the China-India boundary question, as it is an issue left over from history". 18 rounds of Special Representative talks between India-China so far to resolve the dispute "made important progress, laying a solid foundation for the continuous and steady growth of China-India relations", she said. "During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to China, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question by pressing ahead with the process of the special representatives' meeting," Hua said.