Archive for ‘Territorial dispute’

23/05/2016

Doubling down | The Economist

“A COLOSSAL roller-coaster” is how a senior engineer described it. He was talking about the railway that China plans to build from the lowlands of the south-west, across some of the world’s most forbidding terrain, into Tibet. Of all the country’s railway-building feats in recent years, this will be the most remarkable: a 1,600-kilometre (1,000-mile) track that will pass through snow-capped mountains in a region racked by earthquakes, with nearly half of it running through tunnels or over bridges. It will also be dogged all the way by controversy.

Chinese officials have dreamed of such a railway line for a century. In 1912, shortly after he took over as China’s first president, Sun Yat-sen called for a trans-Tibetan line, not least to help prevent Tibet from falling under the sway of Britain (which had already invaded Tibet from India a decade earlier). Mao Zedong revived the idea in the 1950s. In the years since, many exploratory surveys have been carried out.

But it is only after building the world’s second-longest railway network—including, in the past few years, by far the biggest high-speed one—that China’s government has felt ready to take on the challenge. It had a warm-up with the construction of the first railway into Tibet, which opened in 2006. That line, connecting Lhasa with Golmud in Qinghai province to the north (and extended two years ago from Lhasa to Tibet’s second city, Shigatse), was proclaimed to be a huge accomplishment. It included the highest-altitude stretch in the world, parts of it across permafrost. It required ingenious heat-regulating technology to keep the track from buckling. Advertisement: Replay Ad China further honed its skills with the opening of a high-speed line across the Tibetan plateau in 2014—though in Qinghai province, rather than in Tibet proper. But neither track had anything like the natural barriers that the Sichuan-Tibet line will face. It will be just under half as long again as the existing line to Tibet, but will take three times longer to build. The second line’s estimated cost of 105 billion yuan ($16 billion) is several times more than the first one. Lhasa is about 3,200 metres (10,500 feet) higher than Chengdu, yet by the time the track goes up and down on the way there—crossing 14 mountains, two of them higher than Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain—the cumulative ascent will be 14,000 metres. The existing road from Chengdu to Lhasa that follows the proposed route into Tibet is a narrow highway notable for the wreckage of lorries that have careered off it. Some Chinese drivers regard the navigation of Highway 318 as the ultimate proof of their vehicles’, and their own, endurance. Work on easier stretches of the railway line, closest to Lhasa and Chengdu respectively, began in 2014. Now the government appears to be getting ready for the tougher parts. A national three-year “plan of action”, adopted in March for major transport-infrastructure projects, mentions the most difficult stretch: a 1,000km link between Kangding in Sichuan and the Tibetan prefecture of Linzhi (Nyingchi in Tibetan). The plan says this should be “pushed forward” by 2018. It will involve 16 bridges to carry the track over the Yarlung Tsangpo river, known downstream as the Brahmaputra. Dai Bin of Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu says the Chengdu-Lhasa line could be finished by around 2030.

Source: Doubling down | The Economist

24/08/2015

What the Indian and Pakistani Media Said About Canceled NSA Talks – India Real Time – WSJ

With talks set for Monday between India and Pakistan called off, the blame game is in full swing. Newspapers in both countries spilled a lot of ink on the vitriolic back-and-forth between New Delhi and Islamabad and tried to predict what would happen next.

India’s Amar Ujala, a Hindi-language daily newspaper, said Pakistan’s stubbornness had derailed the planned meeting between the two countries’ national security advisors.

The paper pointed to a joint statement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, when they agreed to the talks in July, saying the two sides would discuss terrorism. “If Pakistan had an objection, it should not have signed the joint statement,” the paper wrote.

“Pakistan took India’s sovereignty too casually,” said another editorial in Navbharat Times, one of the most-widely read Hindi dailies, referring to a Pakistani demand that its security advisor be allowed to meet separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir ahead of the talks. “Now it can’t expect India to show respect.”

Some in India’s English-language press took a milder tone.

The Times of India, India’s most widely circulated English-language daily described the cancelation of talks as a “temporary setback.” In an editorial, it described the days before the talks were finally called off as a “prolonged game of chicken to see who blinks first.”

 

“There’s a more than even chance Pakistan will seek to escalate tensions on the so-far quiet northern stretches of the Line of Control,” said the Indian Express in an editorial published Monday referring to the border which divides India-and Pakistan-held Kashmir. The paper advised both countries of the need for “maturity and self-reflection” which it said was “little in evidence this past week.”

On the other side of the border, some in the Pakistani media held India accountable for the failure of the talks.

In an editorial, Dawn, one of Pakistan’s biggest newspapers, said the Indian government’s anger against “a fairly innocuous and standard meeting” between Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists was a sign of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “true intentions.”

“He does not really want dialogue with Pakistan, but does not want to be seen rejecting talks outright in front of the international community,” Dawn said.

In Pakistan’s the Nation, an editorial said Pakistan’s decision to pull out of the talks mean it was “finally taking a stand” against India. “Enough is enough,” it said.

India was “not ready to settle” and Pakistan was now quitting its “good cop routine,” something the paper said Monday was the “right move.”

“India will make sure to repackage the situation as Pakistan refusing to talk, rather than India reneging on its promises. As the bigger country, as the more globally popular country, India will get away with that,” the paper concluded.

The Nawa-i-Waqt, a prominent national Urdu-language daily, said in an editorial Sunday that “from day one, it has been India’s policy to indicate its willingness to talk to Pakistan on all issues including Kashmir to deceive the world, but whenever the time nears for talks at any level, it makes some excuse to sabotage them.”

via What the Indian and Pakistani Media Said About Canceled NSA Talks – India Real Time – WSJ.

26/05/2015

Taiwan offers South China Sea peace plan | Reuters

Taiwan proposed a peace initiative on Tuesday to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea that it says will reduce tensions that have put Beijing at odds with its neighbors and the United States.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou arrives at Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei, Taiwan, April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

The South China Sea Peace Initiative announced by President Ma Ying-jeou called on claimants to temporarily shelve their disagreements to enable negotiations on sharing resources.

Ma’s plan is similar to a 2012 proposal for the East China Sea, which allowed Taiwan and Japan to jointly fish in the contested waters.

However it appeared unlikely the plan would be accepted by China, which claims most of the South China Sea and has rebuffed earlier attempts at multilateral negotiations.

“We believe Chinese people on both sides of the Strait have a duty to jointly protect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and safeguard the stability of the South China Sea region,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, when asked about the plan on Tuesday.

China views self-governed Taiwan as a renegade province.

Taiwan has so far played a marginal role in disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew over parts of the disputed sea.

Ma’s remarks in a keynote speech at an international law conference in Taipei were the most public comments by Taiwan since the United States, its biggest ally, raised concerns over the speed and breadth of China’s land reclamation in the area.

“We demand that freedom of navigation and overflight be respected in the South China Sea,” said Ma, who urged a peaceful resolution “before a major conflict breaks out”.

Taiwan normally maintains a low-key approach to such issues but has coast guard and military facilities in the area, including an airstrip and soon-to-be-completed port on Taiping Island, also known as Itu Abu, the largest natural land mass in the disputed Spratlys archipelago.

“I believe the mainland side understands the spirit and principle of our South China Sea peace initiative,” Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin told reporters after Ma’s speech.

The rival claims by Taiwan and China go back to before they split in a civil war in 1949 after the defeated Nationalists fled to the island from the Communists.

via Taiwan offers South China Sea peace plan | Reuters.

12/05/2015

Optics as well as substance important as India’s Modi visits China | Reuters

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the ancient city of Xian on Thursday at the start of a visit to China, he will be met by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in an unusual departure from normal protocol.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Top Chinese leaders almost never travel outside Beijing to meet senior foreign guests on bilateral visits, and Xi’s appearance in Xian, located in Xi’s home province of Shaanxi, underscores China’s determination to set aside past rancor between the world’s two most populous nations, experts said.

“It definitely indicates the significance our president puts on Mr. Modi’s visit,” said Li Li, an India expert at the government-backed China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“From the Chinese side, we were very impressed by the hospitality extended by Mr. Modi during Xi Jinping’s visit to India,” he added, referring to Modi greeting Xi in his home state of Gujarat when Xi visited India last year.

Modi will visit a Xian pagoda connected to Xuanzang, also known as Tripitaka, the monk who bought the Buddhist sutras to China from India thousands of years ago, according to people briefed on the trip.

“It is sending a very important message,” Li said of Xi’s going to Xian to greet Modi, a place closely connected to the deep historical links between China and India.

Still, the list of problems both countries face are considerable, ranging from a festering border dispute to China’s support for India’s arch-rival Pakistan.

Mistrust runs deep, something Xi will be keenly aware of despite the bonhomie and billions of dollars in deals likely to be signed.

Modi’s new account on Chinese social media site Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, was filled with messages soon after launching this month asking him to return what China calls South Tibet, otherwise known as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

“This is the great, great pressure the Chinese government is facing,” said Mao Siwei, a former senior Chinese diplomat who was based in India and Pakistan, talking about the need to manage Chinese public concern about the disputed area.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies faced off in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Xi was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi. This time, the border has been quiet ahead of Modi’s arrival.

While chances of a breakthrough on the border look distant, the exchange of visits by Modi and Xi so soon after both took office is a positive sign, said Ram Madhav, a senior leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a hardline Hindu nationalist organization that has close ties to Modi’s BJP.

“There is an earnest eagerness to connect with the Indian leadership,” Madhav told a forum in Beijing.

“Prime Minister Modi has chosen to come in his first year (of office) to China. It shows that the leaders on both sides are seriously attempting to … bridge the most important challenge between the two countries – the trust deficit.”

via Optics as well as substance important as India’s Modi visits China | Reuters.

24/03/2015

China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace | Reuters

China and India have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along their Himalayan border while they work on resolving a long-festering boundary dispute, China’s foreign ministry said after talks in New Delhi.

China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) and India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval shake hands during a photo opportunity before their meeting in New Delhi March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The talks are aimed at fixing a dispute over the border that divides Asia’s largest nations, part of a push to make progress on the festering row before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits China.

China’s foreign ministry said in a statement released on Monday both countries would build on the results of previous negotiations and push forward in “the correct direction”.

“Both sides reiterated the appropriate management and control of the dispute and joint maintenance of the peace and tranquillity of the border region before the border issue is resolved,” the ministry said.

As major neighbours and developing countries, the development of relations is good for both peoples as well as for regional and global peace and development, it said.

“Both sides ought to work together to push for practical cooperation in all areas, and further increase coordination on global and international issues.”

The talks are the first since Modi took office. The nationalist Indian prime minister is keen to resolve a dispute that has clouded rapidly expanding commercial links. Any progress would throw a positive light on his expected visit to Beijing in May.

However, there is no simple solution to a conflict that largely dates back to British colonial decisions about Tibet.

The disagreement over the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border led to a brief war in 1962 and involves large swaths of remote territory.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies faced off in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi.

via China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace | Reuters.

23/03/2015

India and China Talk About Their Disputed Border – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian and Chinese officials are meeting in New Delhi this week for talks on a border dispute that has for decades strained relations between the neighbors — the first such negotiations since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office last year.

The two Asian countries are separated by a nearly 2,200-mile border whose exact location is a subject of bitter dispute. China claims India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls southern Tibet. India claims a Chinese-controlled region it calls Aksai Chin as part of its northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir.

India periodically accuses Chinese troops of “transgressions” across the two countries’ ill-defined boundary, known as the Line of Actual Control. Officials on both sides say such incidents are likely to continue – and perhaps escalate as India further develops its border lands – until the boundary is properly marked and settled.

The dispute cast a shadow over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last year – and on Mr. Modi’s efforts to improve relations with China. As Mr. Xi held his first official talks with Mr. Modi in September last year, their countries’ armies were locked in a tense face-off in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Roughly 1,000 troops were called in on both sides, making it the biggest border confrontation between the two nations in decades.

Such episodes have interfered with the two countries’ efforts to deepen commercial relations as India seeks foreign investment to modernize its infrastructure. Mr. Modi is scheduled to visit China in May as part of those efforts.

Talks this week between China’s representative on the boundary question, Yang Jiechi, and India’s national security advisor, Ajit Doval, are aimed at giving momentum to the border talks.

Indian analysts say China may be more willing to negotiate given Mr. Modi’s steps to strengthen India’s ties with the United States. Mr. Modi visited the White House last year and U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to India to review a symbolically important military parade in January, signaling a willingness on India’s part to move closer to Washington.

But, Indian officials said, it won’t be easy. “It is an incredibly difficult problem if you look at the amount of real estate at stake and the length of the border,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry, who declined to be named.  The Indian government’s approach, the official said, is “let’s not let it drift.”

via India and China Talk About Their Disputed Border – India Real Time – WSJ.

09/03/2015

Kashmir fight adds to hurdles for Modi’s reform push | Reuters

A ruckus over the release from prison of Masarat Alam Bhat, the man who led the most serious revolt in decades against the Indian military in Kashmir, is adding to mounting problems for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he tries to push economic reform through parliament.

Masarat Alam Bhat (2nd R), a Kashmiri separatist leader, speaks on his mobile phone at his residence in Srinagar March 9, 2015. REUTERS-Danish Ismail

The Lok Sabha was temporarily adjourned on Monday after opposition parties demanded to know why the separatist leader was released at the weekend by Kashmir’s state government, which Modi’s nationalist party supports.

“I am angered and condemn the release, just like other lawmakers,” Modi said in parliament. “I can assure you that my government was not informed about the decision by the state government and neither were we consulted.”

Modi swept to office ten months ago promising rapid economic transformation but disparate opposition parties have united to block his agenda, forcing the government to rely on executive orders called ordinances to pass unpopular policies.

With two weeks remaining of the current session of parliament before a recess, the government needs to win support for ordinances, including those raising the foreign direct investment limit in the insurance sector, or they will expire.

via Kashmir fight adds to hurdles for Modi’s reform push | Reuters.

09/03/2015

China says progress being made on India border talks | Reuters

Progress is being made on drawn-out border talks with India, China’s foreign minister said on Sunday, likening the process to climbing a mountain that becomes harder the closer to the summit you get.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures as he speaks at a news conference at the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's parliament, in Beijing, March 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The neighboring giants have had numerous rounds of talks over the years without making much apparent process, in a dispute which dates back to a brief border war in 1962.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the problem as one “left over from history”.

“After many years of hard efforts, the border talks continue to make progress, and the dispute has been brought under control,” Wang told reporters on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament.

“At the moment, the boundary negotiation is in the process of building up small and positive developments,” he said. “It’s like climbing a mountain: the going is tough, and that is only because we are on the way up.”

China lodged an official protest last month when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited one of the border regions in dispute.

via China says progress being made on India border talks | Reuters.

14/02/2015

PM Modi sending top diplomat to Pakistan in thawing of ties | Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sending his top diplomat to Pakistan as part of a regional tour, the first top-ranking visit since Modi broke off talks last year over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) talks to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif (R) during the closing session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 27, 2014.  REUTERS/Niranjan Shrestha/Pool/Files

The sign of a thaw in ties comes weeks after a visit to India by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The United States has long privately encouraged dialogue between India and Pakistan hoping that better ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours could lead to cooperation in other areas such as Afghanistan.

Modi called his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, early on Friday to wish his country luck in the World Cup cricket tournament beginning this weekend and to tell him that new Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyan Jaishankar will soon visit Islamabad as well as other regional capitals.

Sharif told Modi he welcomed the proposed visit of the Indian envoy to discuss all issues of common interest, the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department welcomed the move.

via PM Modi sending top diplomat to Pakistan in thawing of ties | Reuters.

13/01/2015

Japan, China hold maritime crisis talks in Tokyo – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Japan and China hold the fourth round of talks in Tokyo on maritime crisis management mechanism Monday, with both countries agreeing to launch it as soon as possible once a broad agreement is reached.

The working-level talks, participated by officials from Japan’ s Defense Ministry and the Maritime Self-Defense Force and China’ s Defense Ministry, firstly reaffirmed basic agreements they have made so far.

The two sides also discussed some specifics of the mechanism, including technical problems, and agreed to trigger it as soon as possible after some necessary adjustments based on Monday’s talks, Chinese officials said.

The mechanism of high-level consultations on maritime affairs between the two countries was launched in 2012. After three rounds of successful talks, the talks were suspended after the Japanese government‘s so-called”nationalization”of China’s Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea in September 2012.

via Japan, China hold maritime crisis talks in Tokyo – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India