Journal Articles

After the Hiatus: India-China Border Diplomacy since the 1970s



May 22, 2011

In 1976 India and China resumed their diplomatic interactions, which had been interrupted by the 1962 War. For the ensuing three decades both sides have been engaged in discovering a process that can identify the contours of a solution to the boundary question. The orthodox historiography of the post-1976 phase portrays India as a relatively intransigent actor still clinging to the past (pre-1962) and unwilling to truly explore a solution to the dispute. India is also painted as an unimaginative interlocutor, unable to offer proposals or counter-proposals; it is China that has supposed to have steered India toward a common position. This paper offers a nuanced corrective. India was not the only unyielding actor in this dyad; China too, despite its oft-expressed intent for a comprehensive settlement has been less than enthusiastic in translating its principles toward concrete proposals. Nevertheless, a modicum of progress has been attained, which is reflected in important bilateral agreements in the 1990s and 2000s. The author gets to the essence of the dispute and attempts to interpret the negotiating postures of both sides and conjectures why progress might have stalled since the mid-2000s.

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