ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Beyond the Border Dispute

Beyond the Border Dispute G P D NEXT Monday, i e, on October 24, yet another round of talks between China and India opens in New Delhi. The Chinese have tread a cautiously optimstic path as far as Sino-Indian relations and the prospects of a tangible solution to the vexed territorial problem are concerned. It does not require an astrologer to predict that the fourth round would not produce any results on the most outstanding question between India and China, namely, the question of the disputed frontier. There is really no room for adjustment. Both sides have made this categorically explicit. The Chinese would not go beyond the Deng Ziaop- mg package. Indira Gandhi would not accept it. She would accept the Deng package with something extra but the Chinese are in no mood to explore that possibility. The problem between India and China is no longer one of history or of law per se. It is purely political. Is the Sino-lndian normalisation which hinges upon the settlement of the frontiers dispute a central requirement of the foreign policy of either country? It would seem that taking a clearly bilateral view of the matter is neither enough or right. A normal Sino-lndian relationship has a global meaning and much would depend upon how that meaning is read in Beijing and New Delhi: more so in New Delhi, To begin with, a distinction bet- ween New Delhi's and Beijing's attitudes needs to be drawn. While it is true that Beijing is unwilling to go beyond the Deng package, it is not at all clear if the border settlement is being thought of as a precondition to a meaningful relationship with India in Beijing. Probably that is not the case. On the other hand, we are determined to have a border settlement properly signed on the dotted line in our pockets before we consider any qualitative change in our view of the Sino-lndian relationship. It is difficult to see the utility of such an approach. It was time the policymakers in Delhi realised that relations between two countries can never be of the 'and they lived happily ever after' variety. Even after a border settlement contradictions in Sino- Indian relations will persist, in new garb and form. Our relations with the Soviet Union and the United States are not free of contradictions either. Yet Indira Gandhi's government goes on doing good business with both of them. There is no reason why it should not be possible to do the same with China.

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