As if the cold air blowing through Beijing and Delhi this winter wasn’t enough to chill India-China relations, the two countries have seen frosty bilateral ties as of late. Precipitating with disputes over the South China sea, an unbalanced trade and Beijing’s proximity to Pakistan, the to-be held and much awaited 15th boundary talks to be held on the 28th and 29th of November between the two nations in New Delhi were called off on account of India hosting the Dalai Lama. His holiness the Dalai Lama spoke at a Global Buddhist Congregation starting in New Delhi on November 27, which Delhi refused to cancel on Beijing’s behest.
The delay in the boundary talks which were expected to iron out issues over the disputed territories each country claims as their own is also expected to postpone Xi Jinping’s visit to India. Mr. Xi, the next in line to Hu Jintao, is expected to be President in 2012.
The countries’ two special representatives, India’s National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, were supposed to oversee the finalization of the “Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs” resolving disputes in certain pockets on the 4,000 kilometer-plus line of actual control (LAC). The stalled defense dialogue was also expected to restart in the aftermath of the New Delhi meeting.
While Indian officials had told their Chinese counterparts the meeting was religious and not political, China has not accepted their view.
China views the exiled Tibetan religious leader as a “splittist” who is campaigning for Tibetan independence. The Dalai Lama, however, says he does not seek independence in Tibet, and wants China to give Tibetans “genuine autonomy” in religious, cultural and educational spheres.
“I want to point out that the Dalai Lama is not a purely religious figure but the one who has been engaged in separatist activities for a long time, under the pretext of religion,” Mr. Hong told the Hindu. “We oppose any country that provides a platform for his anti-China activities in any form.”
Chinese media is also frustrated at an Indian plan to raise a Mountain Strike Corps (that includes more than 100,000 soldiers) along their border. According to the People’s Daily, the “action is completely not worthwhile. Currently, India has 40,000 troops in the disputed area, and if the further 100,000 is deployed, the total number of the troops will reach 140,000. In an era when precision-guided weapons are developing rapidly, everyone with common sense knows that concentrated troops could be eliminated easily.”