2017-08-12 10:16:52 五毛网
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China and India's Border Disputes
Hey all. I've been studying the habits of China politically and economically for some time now, but what I haven't been able to pin down is...what is the significance of the land they have disputes with in regards to Bhutan and India?
For some context, I understand that China often has the attitude that losing any land considered "greater China" is often considered a humiliation to its leadership, which sparks some chest beating on their southern border. But what is the geopolitical or economic significance of these borders, if any? Is it purely just a conflict of different interpretations of past treaties with British India?
some resources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_border_dispute
sparky_sparky_boom 64分 11天前
The latest dispute has to do with part of the Doklam Plateau that's at the south end of the Chumbi Valley. The Chumbi Valley is narrow and overlooked in the West by Sikkim and East by Bhutan. It is of little strategic worth since Indian forces in Sikkim can bombard Chinese positions in the narrow strip or trap Chinese forces inside by cutting off the mouth of the valley. Since the Chumbi's mouth is on the north side of the Himalayas, Indian forces can't hold ground in the valley for long before Chinese tanks roll in. But the valley is also boxed in on all sides by mountains and useless to Chinese forces.
Useless unless the Chumbi valley is linked with the Doklam Plateau at the end. It's the last piece of high ground along the Chumbi Valley before it leads through Bhutan into the south side of the Himalayas, and is a flat plateau perfect for stationing artillery and soldiers. Indian forces there can block any Chinese incursion south through the valley. Chinese forces there can shell supply lines to Sikkim from high ground during a conflict while shielding forces moving south on the east side of the plateau. Chinese control of Doklam suddenly turns the Chumbi valley into a strategic asset. I definitely recommend checking out the geography with 3D view on Google Earth if you can.
As for why Chumbi is important, China and India have two major bits of land under dispute. Aksai Chin is under Chinese control since it's on their side of the Himalayas. But Arunachal Pradesh is on the Indian side of the Himalayas and hard to hold against Indian resupply without cutting the Indian Northeast off from the rest of the country, which is why despite securing Arunachal Pradesh in 1962 Chinese forces decided to retreat. In any future war over Arunachal Pradesh, an improved Chinese position around Sikkim makes it significantly easier to isolate the Northeast and force its separation from India.
So the significance of the disputed land is because it's high ground. As for why the issue popped up now, instead of earlier or later, that's probably much more complicated.
[–]insipid-fauna 35分 11天前
As for why the issue popped up now, instead of earlier or later, that's probably much more complicated.
Some speculation if I may:
Bhutan and China are close to establishing diplomatic ties, which would resolve a lengthy border dispute between the two countries. Under the deal Sinchulumpa and Gieu would have been ceded to Bhutan while the Doklam Plateau would have been ceded to China.
Since negotiations have been dragging on for years, the road building in the plateau would put pressure on the Bhutanese government to settle the issue more quickly lest China secures de facto control over the area without ceding the other two territories. However India, given its suzerainty over Bhutan intervened for the strategic reasons /u/sparky_sparky_boom suggests.
As for the timing, OBOR is ramping up, and the 19th National People's Congress is this September. China has been seeking greater relations with its neighbors (Nepal, Philippines, Myanmar, etc.) in the past year, and Bhutan is likely just one element of this plan. Bhutanese elections are also coming up next year, but it remains to be seen whether this drags on until then.
sparky_sparky_boom 12分 11天前
Bhutan is on the Indian side if the Himalayas, so India can easily punish Bhutan by blockading the country or just straight up annexing it. If China wanted to turn Bhutan to their side, they could have given Bhutan a backup plan in case of Indian pressure. Maybe building a rail line up to the border and offering to resupply or defend Bhutan in return for diplomatic relations. Doesn't seem like China actually wants relations with Bhutan that badly if they're willing to let Bhutan shoulder all the potential fallout.
insipid-fauna 20分 11天前
China's already begun to build a rail link from Lanzhou to link up with Kathmandu, extending the railway which runs from Lanzhou to Xigaze. They could easily do the same and extend the railway to Bhutan whose border is just over 100 km away from Xigaze, so the infrastructure is in place for an extension. Given China's rather shrewd "carrot-and-stick" approach with other countries, I would guess that China has already offered a rail link to Bhutan along with settling the boundary dispute and establishing official political relations.
If reports that Bhutan did not ask India to occupy Doklam, and that China notified both Bhutan and India that they were improving the road well in advance (and was provided no objection) are true, this action by India would just compel Bhutan to establish relations with China sooner. But Bhutan may be waiting to see how Sino-Nepal relations progress before committing ties with China, lest it be subjected to the withdrawal of subsidies or a closing of the Bhutan-Indian border as you suggest (also this has happened before) and become economically isolated. I think the problem with Bhutan however that unlike Nepal, 42% of exports consist of energy sales to India, while Nepal's economy is far more diversified and would be able to pivot between the two countries easily. If anything, China would also need to link up its power network with Bhutan's, but I suppose we'll have to see how this plays out.
CopperknickersII 3分 9天前
Bhutan has always been aligned with India because India leaves them alone, whereas if they fell under Chinese influence they'd end up like Tibet, a colonial settlement of China. India's interest in Bhutan is as a buffer state between China and the Siliguri Gap, one of India's main strategic weaknesses.
sparky_sparky_boom 12分 9天前
You might want to do a bit more reading on that. There's plenty of evidence that India messes in the affairs of Nepal and Bhutan, and none that China would annex Bhutan like Tibet.
loveindiahateindians 1分 7天前
Didn't china mess with Vietnam. Bhutan and Nepal are India's neighborhood same as Vietnam for china. There will always be issues between neighbouring countries.
wiwalker[S] 2分 11天前
So I understand it tactically now, but strategically, its mainly to cut off India from its eastern provinces? That seems very ambitious but I wouldn't put it past China.
sparky_sparky_boom 21分 11天前
If you don't buy the whole "claim Arunachal Pradesh because it was always part of China" the best explanation is that China wants the Buddhist Monastery in Tawang to eliminate something that could be considered a capital for an alternative government of Tibet. However, India isn't willing to hand over Tawang on a plate, and China can't annex Tawang and hold it against Indian forces as long as they can roll tanks into the Northeast. Cutting the Northeast off from India would be the only way China can gain long-term control of Tawang and put Tibetan independence in the ground for good. The rest of Arunachal Pradesh and the Northeast isn't nearly as valuable, being on the other side of the Himalayas and hard to connect to. China would probably support a separatist movement or let Myanmar annex it or something.
GroovyBabua 2分 7天前
The Tibet issue is a weird one betweent he two countries. India accepts that the Tibet region is part of China. So there doesnt seem to be any will to push China on that front. Atleast not yet. The "capital" of the Tibetan government in exile is in Dharamshala, near the other end of the border between India and China. So Tawang is not important because of that reason.
greenpearlin 17分 11天前
I follow some geopolitics blogs on wechat from Chinese perspectives. The way these writers see it that both China and India have been constructing roads to secure their de facto borders, but the Chinese were just doing it quicker and it came to a head here in Doklam.
Strategically, I think it's a good leverage to their position in the Indian Ocean, where their $trades with Africa go through.
They are also standing firm on their demand to deal with the issue with just Bhutan, challenging the client state relationship between India and Bhutan.
sparky_sparky_boom 8分 10天前
There's also another scenario where a Chinese attack through the Chumbi valley is useless for cutting off the Indian northeast. If India can secure transit through Bangladesh, through treaty or force, then Chinese forces would have to cut off a much wider strip across Bangladesh, impossible with only Chinese infantry facing Indian tanks on flat ground.
Considering Bangladesh is smaller and weaker than India, they probably could force passage if necessary. I'm of the opinion that cutting off and holding the Northeast is more likely than not to fail. The recent dispute over Doklam probably isn't part of some larger plan. More likely some poor Chinese schmucks got sent up to pave a road they completely thought was in their country and accidentally sparked a standoff.
insipid-fauna 8分 10天前
Problem is going through Bangaldesh to NE India means going across the Jamuna river, and the nearest bridge crossing is ~250 km south of the trijunction area. India would need to secure safe passage through Bangladesh by political means, forcing through Bangladesh a la Blitzkreig style would destroy any goodwill India has with the US (unless China launched an unwarranted offensive). The Siliguri Corridor appears to be a natural chokepoint, otherwise I'm not sure why India is getting so worked up over Doklam.
The recent dispute over Doklam probably isn't part of some larger plan.
The Chinese rarely do anything in international affairs unless they have some greater plan. This would be a rare exception rather than the rule.
sparky_sparky_boom 8分 10天前
If China were to use the Doklam plateau high ground, it would be during an attack. So I doubt any Indian violation of Bangladesh's border would be looked upon that badly. India's not going to randomly cross Bangladesh in peacetime. The fact that Chinese forces on Doklam might force India to cross Bangladesh explains why India wants to keep Chinese forces off, but I have doubts now about the value of Doklam for China or an invasion plan for the Northeast if the Siligiri corridor could be easily bypassed.
I'm not convinced the PRC is always capable of operating with all its parts in concert without ever making a mistake. That's on the level of accussing the CIA being behind every negative event to happen to the US's rivals. No point attributing events to malice when it can also be attributed to error.
insipid-fauna 5分 10天前
If China were to use the Doklam plateau high ground, it would be during an attack. So I doubt any Indian violation of Bangladesh's border would be looked upon that badly. India's not going to randomly cross Bangladesh in peacetime. The fact that Chinese forces on Doklam might force India to cross Bangladesh explains why India wants to keep Chinese forces off, but I have doubts now about the value of Doklam for China if the Siligiri corridor could be easily bypassed.
Agreed. I have my doubts as well.
That's on the level of accussing the CIA being behind every negative event to happen to the US's rivals.
False equivalence. The CIA doesn't have authority over the behavior of its US rivals, while the CPC/PLA has authority over its own soldiers. I have extraordinary doubts the expansion of a road in contested territory, and with China reportedly providing a statement to Bhutan and India prior to road construction that they would proceed to build the road, was done by some rogue company of engineers. You don't have to look deeply that China is making deals with its other neighboring countries either.
sparky_sparky_boom 3分 10天前*
If your source is correct and that China asked for permission before starting construction, and only started after receiving no objection, then it seems like they weren't expecting Indian opposition and were blindsided by it. Not really behavior planned to raise tensions at this particular point in time. More likely that they were expecting routine maintenance after notifying neighbors.
Of course, we're running off of rumors at this point. I'm still inclined to believe that large organizations are difficult to control due to many moving parts, personnel interactions, and inner political struggles. Even something that looks as united as the CPC from the outside isn't infallible and probably makes errors even a quarter of the time.
loscrimmage 18分 11天前
That seems to be India propaganda. While it is a remote possibility, I can't see any interests from the Chinese side for actually implementing it. In short, India is not that important.
devils_advocate8 0分 11天前
In short, India is not that important.
Really? This is your conclusion? The only peer in Asia that can rival China both economically and militarily, one which shares a border where they’ve already had a war and has $60B worth of trade imports from China isn’t important for China? You’re either seriously misinformed or downright delusional.
That seems to be India propaganda. While it is a remote possibility, I can’t see any interests from the Chinese side for actually implementing it.
Would you care elaborating why this might be Indian propaganda? It’s well documented that this region is strategically important for both India and China. Just because you can’t see why it’s important for the Chinese, doesn’t mean it’s propaganda.
id815 17分 10天前*
The only peer in Asia that can rival China both economically
India has a lower GDP than France
India still relies on Russian tech which is already starting to fall behind China's indigenous tech in several areas.
Russia and Japan are the only 2 countries in Asia that can arguably be considered "peers" of China (not even really) and India isn't even in THAT league.
The only comparable thing India has to China is its population.
Ali_Safdari 3分 10天前
Lower nominal GDP than France. By PPP terms, India is the third largest, at around 9.5 trillion dollars; which, however, is still less than half of that of China.
And yes, India does rely primarily on Russian tech, only military. Apart from Russian nuclear reactors, not much of Russian tech and products are used in India. Also, what point are you trying to make?
id815 10分 10天前*
Seems like people like to pick measures to paint a picture they want to tell. Why use PPP over nominal when comparing the spending power between 2 economies? Using PPP is especially absurd when discussing GDP and military together, seeing as a large proportion of Indian money would be spent on Russian military equipment bought on an open market. I'll paste my other reply in this thread below.
PPP GDP isn't a good measure of economic power that a nation can leverage on the world stage compared to Nominal GDP. Nominal GDP shows the total productive output of a country indexed to USD which provides a better base for comparison than PPP, which adjusts for the cost of living in different countries. While adjusting for the cost of living matters when looking at individual well-being in these countries, in the context of the world stage where many different countries trade on an open market, Nominal GDP is a better measure at how much "ammunition" / spending power each economy has.
I didn't really have a point. I was just refuting OP's point about India being the only "peer" / "rival" that can challenge China, and we had a little debate over what "challenge" actually meant.
Ali_Safdari 2分 9天前
I agree on both your points. India isn't a peer of China, and it'll need atleast 2 decades of the current growth rate to reach China's current nGDP. In the distant future, perhaps both the countries will be on an equal footing, now they definately aren't peers.