September 03, 2009
Trade is flourishing between India and China—and so is the rivalry. The neighbors share many miles of frontier, and much of the border is in dispute.
They also disagree over Tibet. India hosts the Dalai Lama's government. China calls him a "splittist" intent on breaking up the People's Republic.
These two issues have come to a head in the town of Kawang Tawang, the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. The region is currently controlled by India, but China claims it. Indian soldiers and Tibetan monks walk side by side through the streets of the town. Chinese troops watch the situation from just a few miles away. Neither side wants to fight, but both want the disputed zone:
Since 2005, when Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China visited India, the two countries have gone through 13 rounds of bilateral negotiations over the issue. A round was held just last month, with no results.
“The China-India border has got to be one of the most continuously negotiated borders in modern history,” said M. Taylor Fravel, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is a leading expert on China’s borders. “That shows how intractable this dispute is.”
[Image: Shiho Fukada for The New York Times]