The standoff at the India-Bhutan-China trijunction may be in the news at present but Bhutan is not the only smaller neighbour that has been on the receiving end of China’s territorial ambitions over the past few decades.
Several countries in Central Asia (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan), Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) and East Asia (Taiwan and Japan) have been forced by China to accept either its territorial claims or loans at high interest rates, with failure to repay resulting in China acquiring ownership of projects and land.
“China’s penchant to compare its modern borders with those that existed prior to the perceived ‘historical losses’ of territories is significant to understanding of China’s current boundary issues,” said DS Rajan, a former government official who has served in China.
China’s unresolved land and maritime border disputes with its neighbours continue to hurt its relations with many countries and vitiate regional politics. It shares 22,000 km land borders with 13 neighbouring nations — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. Pakistan also has border with China but through PoK.
Many of China’s claims on neighbours’ territories are based on unsubstantiated and unprecedented “historical precedents” dating back centuries, as in the case of Bhutan, according to a report published in Brisbane-based China Daily Mail a few years ago. The publication follows developments in China closely. While China’s land boundary disputes with India and Bhutan remain unresolved, disputes with most of the other neighbours have been settled in its favour.
The unresolved maritime border issues are most serious for China amid competing claims of several littoral nations and the emerging regional order, as per Rajan. He said conditions in this regard pit China against eight littoral parties – Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Taiwan.
China shares maritime borders with four countries – Japan and South Korea in the East China Sea and with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea.
In the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways with huge potential oil and gas fields to be exploited, China claims most of the water “based on historical facts and international law” and shows them in its maps within its “nine dotted” imaginary line. All littoral nations have officially challenged China’s claims.
Informal meeting between PM Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping still possible on G-20 sidelines ::
NEW DELHI: An informal meeting or a pull aside between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the course of BRICS leaders meeting on Friday on the sidelines of G-20 summit in Hamburg cannot be ruled out. While China on Thursday said that “the atmosphere is not right” for a formal or bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi when they gather for the G-20 summit in Hamburg, the occasion of the BRICS leaders meet can provide an opportunity for the Sino-Indian leaders to interact amid standoff along Sikkim border.