Chinese plan to increase border trade will spell trouble for India

In a bid to expand its footprints in the disputed border areas, a Chinese legislator has proposed that China should allow residents in the border area with India to trade. According to her, this would “improve China-India relations and reduce military confrontations”. Increase in trade will benefit the local inhabitants, she said.

In an interview to Global Times, An Ran, a professor at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, who is also a deputy to the National People’s Congress, said “this proposal could also showcase the achievements of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region to India and other countries.”

According to An, the proposal was based on fieldwork conducted by a group of researchers from Yunnan University in Southwest China. Yunnan Province borders the Tibet region, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

China, which considers McMahon Line between India and China “illegal”, wants free movement of residents in the border areas. India has not been game for this. “China’s overtures poses a great security threat to India,” says an expert on China in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

According to Global Times report, “in 1914, British colonialists secretly instigated the illegal ‘McMahon Line’ in an attempt to incorporate some areas in South Tibet into India. None of the successive Chinese governments have ever recognized the demarcation.”

China’s clandestine intentions are revealed in the statement of the group leader of the team, Professor Guo Jianbin, who told Global Times: “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.”

Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of International Relations, told the Global Times that “the move could help deepen understanding between China and India”.

According to Hu, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, might welcome this to “gain support in the elections”.  However, Hu warned that China should be wary of India’s designs as “India has been suspicious and hostile toward China”.

India has always expressed its concern over Chinese construction activities in border areas. India had flagged its concerns when China undertook construction activities in the Donglang area, saying they amount to a “significant change of status quo”. To this, Beijing insisted the standoff in Sikkim sector could only be resolved by New Delhi recalling its troops to their original positions.

In response to the Chinese government’s warning that India should learn lessons from the 1962 border conflict and not clamour for war, finance minister Arun Jaitley said circumstances had changed over the past five decades: “If they are trying to remind us, the situation in 1962 was different, the India of today is different.”

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