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India China Relations: The Border Issue and Beyond

India China Relations The Border Issue and Beyond


At the outset, this book must be viewed as a policy relevant document rather than an abstract historical research paper. The authors have revisited the seemingly intractable India-China border dispute from a contemporary conflict resolution perspective and thus are relatively detached from the historical baggage that has so often influenced other commentaries on this controversial subject.

The great natural defensive line of northern India, the mighty Himalayas, separating Tibet from north-east India, is a barrier which, by tradition, was impenetrable. This defensive line is embodied by the 1914 Line, India’s non-negotiable interest. Thus, from an Indian perspective, it can never be conceived that its frontiers with China are ever formalized on the Brahmaputra plains. Further, the 1914 alignment, aside from its strategic sanctity, also upholds the ethnic and linguistic affinities to peoples south of it, who are distinct from the homogenous Tibetan or Han people. Similarly, from China’s perspective it too is in possession of its non-negotiable interest – the Aksai Chin plateau. And therein lies the essence of an east-west swap.

By retracing the historical record, the authors argue that such a swap is eminently feasible and historically justifiable. Moreover, realpolitik demands it. From the Indian perspective, however, it should be equally clear that a bipartisan national consensus is imperative for any breakthrough resolution to emerge. It remains to be seen, however, if political managers on both sides are able to muster the necessary will to resolve a dispute that has lasted for more than half-a-century.

Remarks at launch of Border Issue and Beyond ( 23 March 2009)

The Foreign Secretary, Mr. Shivshankar Menon, has cautioned both India and China against resorting to protectionism to deal with the world economic crisis.

Mr. Menon was speaking after launching a new Observer Research Foundation publication “India China Relations: The Border Issue and Beyond” authored by Mohan Guruswamy and Zorawar Daulet Singh.

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India China Relations The Border Issue and Beyond

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Endorsements from book cover

‘An admirably well-researched and objective account of the Sino-Indian border dispute that presents with great lucidity facts, the strategic dimension of the unsettled difference as well as the contours of a viable solution.’

Kanwal Sibal,
Former Foreign Secretary

‘A meticulous and comprehensive study. The work will attract the general reader and secure the respect of the specialist.’

Ranjit Sethi,
former Indian Ambassador

‘A controlled and masterful exposition of the India China border dispute. The authors suggest a pathway towards a future resolution.’

Vikram Sood,
former Secretary, Research and Analysis Wing

‘A timely survey of some of the most important issues surrounding the border imbroglio between Asia’s two oldest and the world’s two largest nations.’

Air Marshal Manek Madon,
former AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command, Indian Air Force

‘While the authors might not have broken new ground in historical research, their portrayal of the border issue will certainly influence a narrative distorted by enduring misperceptions.’

Lieutenant General V.R. Raghavan,
former Director General of Military Operations, Indian Army

In the press

Vikram Sood

‘Forward looking in its recommendations and it a would be to our collective advantage to debate the issues they have raised.’

Srikanth Kondapalli

‘A tour de force on India China relations.’

Inder Malhotra

‘Summed up the boundary question with objectivity, clarity and brevity.’