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Why China claims Arunachal Pradesh

November 16
What happened after Independence?

India extended official recognition to the Peoples Republic of China on December 30, 1949, the second among the non-socialist countries (after Burma) to do so, and established diplomatic relations from April 1950.

In 1954, Chinese Premier Zhou en Lai visited India in June, while Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited China in October, and the two agreed upon the Panchsheel, or Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.

In 1958, when Nehru realised that China had occupied Aksai Chin and built a road through it, he tried to assert control over other areas of the border with Tibet by adopting a 'forward line policy', asking Indian troops to stake claim to remote areas which were also claimed by China. A year later, the Chinese were incensed when India agreed to grant political asylum to the Dalai Lama and his followers who fled Tibet.

This was part of the reason for the 1962 border war with China, during which China's Peiople's Liberation Army routed the ill-prepared Indian troops and occupied most parts of Arunachal Pradesh, then known as the North East Frontier Agency or NEFA, before unilaterally withdrawing north of the McMohan line. That line is now known as the Line of Actual Control. China has not however given up its claim to the region, which was later renamed Arunachal Pradesh (in 1972) and incorporated as an Indian state in 1987. [Remembering a war]

What happened after the 1962 war?

In 1963, some 5,180 sq km of Pakistan occupied Kashmir was ceded to Beijing by Islamabad under a Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement. India sees this too as an illegal occupation.

Diplomatic relations, severed after the war, were restored in 1976. In February 1979, then External Affairs Minister A B Vajpayee visited China, marking the resumption of political level exchanges. But it was only in June 1981 that Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua accepted Vajpayee's invitation to visit India, following which the two sides agreed agreed to Officials level talks on the boundary question and on all other aspects of India-China relations.

After eight rounds of these talks between 1981 and 1987 remained deadlocked, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China, and the two sides agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on the boundary question to 'seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution.' A decade later, Premier Li Peng visited India in December 1991.

Prime Minister Narasimha Rao visited China in September 1993, and signed the 'Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China Border Area,' -- which essentially calls for the status quo on the border to be maintained. It was also agreed to set up an India-China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers to assist the JWG.

The spate of high level bilateral visits stepped up. President R Venkataraman visited China in May 1992, and Vice President K R Narayanan, an old China hand, in October 1994. In December 1993, the chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan visited India, followed by National People's Congress Chairman Qiao Shi in November 1995.

In November 1996, President Jiang Zemin became the first Chinese head of state to visit India, and during his visit, an agreement on Confidence Building Measures, which essentially allowed greater interaction between the armies of the two nations. It was also agreed to exchange maps indicating the respective perceptions of the LAC.

Two years later, on May 11, 1998, India conducted nuclear tests and blamed China for it, sending the entire relationship into a tailspin.

Image : Chinese and Indian soldiers face-off during the border war in 1962.

Photograph: Deshakalyan Chowdhury/AFP/Getty Images
Also see: Hu Jintao in India

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