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China- India border tensions flare up again ahead of Modi's visit to China

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A fresh war of words has broken out over the long-simmering border dispute between Beijing and New Delhi just weeks before an expected visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China, according to South China Morning Post.

Although the two sides have been working to repair relations since last year's stand-off in Doklam, analysts have cautioned there is still a high degree of mistrust between the two sides, especially given Delhi's concern about China's growing influence in India's backyard, the Chinese paper said.

China's investment and infrastructure works under the Belt and Road Initiative have strengthened its ties with Pakistan, India's main rival, as well as other countries in what Delhi sees as its backyard including Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Officials in China and India have been working on a series of intense high-level engagements. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are expected to visit China later this month to attend ministerial meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The visits are designed to pave the way for Modi to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping when he attends a summit of the bloc, which India and Pakistan joined as a full member last year, in the eastern port city of Qingdao in June.

In the latest test for their rapprochement efforts last year's stand-off, Beijing urged New Delhi to respect the so-called Line of Actual Control -- the de facto border between the two.

China is also reported to have protested over recent Indian military patrols in Arunachal Pradesh, a region that China has never recognized as Indian territory.

"Prior to the resolution of the border issue, it is hoped that the Indian side abides by the agreement protocol, respects and obeys the Line of Actual Control and refrains from hyping up the issue and works with China to jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in border areas," Geng Shuang, the spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Monday.

"China's position on the Sino-Indian boundary issue is consistent and clear. The Chinese government has never acknowledged the so-called Arunachal Pradesh," Geng told a press briefing in Beijing.

"Both China and India are negotiating to resolve the boundary issue between the two countries and seek a fair and reasonable solution acceptable to both sides."

Without a common understanding of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), tensions in the border areas remain deep and disputes will continue, said Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, a visiting fellow at Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a New Delhi-based think-tank.

"There is a greater acknowledgement of differences in perception about the LAC. Both countries' troops make patrols up to their perceived LAC," Chaturvedy said adding:

"As long as there is a political understanding between the top leaders, such matters will be kept under control."

Prateek Joshi

After relations between China and India reached a new low during last year's Doklam stand-off, New Delhi's China policy has taken a sharp turn this year, in what could be interpreted as a reversal of its previous stance, says Prateek Joshi, a research associate with VIF India, a New Delhi-based Public Policy Institution.

The change in India's approach has triggered a backlash in academic and strategic circles at home, with China skeptics expressing concern that Delhi was "surrendering" to Beijing. Such an observation isn't entirely accurate, writing in the South China Morning Post, Joshi argues adding:

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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