Leadership: Borderline Aggression

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January 8, 2011: China has again increased the tensions with India by insisting that their common border is only 2,000 kilometers, not the 3,488 kilometers claimed by India. The discrepancy is in Kashmir, where China claims most of the territory controlled by India since India gained independence from Britain in 1947. To further complicate matters, China acknowledges Pakistan ownership of the northern portion of Kashmir, which Pakistani troops occupied in the late 1940s. India and Pakistan have been fighting over who should control the border province of Kashmir for over 60 years. Pakistan lost two wars over the issue (India now occupies most of Kashmir), and two decades ago Pakistan decided to support Islamic terrorist groups dedicated to driving the Indians out of Kashmir. This campaign has failed, although the violence continues. The Islamic radical groups are out of control (of the Pakistanis) because of the nationalism issue (most Pakistanis want Pakistan to control all of Kashmir). Shutting down the terrorist training camps in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir is political dynamite, and no Pakistani politician has dared try it, yet. But peace won't happen between India and Pakistan until the Kashmiri Islamic terrorist groups are shut down. China sees all this as a cheap way to weaken their major rival India.

China occupied 20 percent of Kashmir in 1962. Pakistan agreed to this, and India has not been willing go to war with China over it. China has, in the last few years, revived other old claims to border areas. In northeast India, the state of Arunachal Pradesh has long been claimed as part of Tibet (although when Tibet was an independent nation a century ago, it agreed that Arunachal Pradesh was part of India.) Arunachal Pradesh has a population of about a million people, spread among 84,000 square kilometers of mountains and valleys. The Himalayan mountains, the tallest in the world, are the northern border of Arunachal Pradesh, and serve as the border, even if currently disputed, with China. This is a really remote part of the world, and neither China nor India wants to go to war over the place. But the two countries did fight a short war, up in these mountains, in 1962. The Indians lost, and are determined not to lose if there is a rematch. The recent Chinese pressure is more annoying than frightening.

China is tweaking the Indians as part of a campaign to negotiate a treaty to settle, once and for all, these many border disputes, and related issues (like Indian support for Tibetan rebels). India has been reluctant to give in much to the Chinese, and the issue is not seen, by either nation, as worth another war. So non-military pressure is being applied.

 

 


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