China criticizes “unacceptable” move . . .
Pakistan wasn’t the only neighbour provoked by India’s latest moves in Kashmir: it also hit a nerve in Beijing. China administers part of the Kashmiri territory through its control over a 38,000-square-km area of Aksai Chin, which is also claimed by India. Aksai Chin straddles the region where Xinjiang Province and Tibet meet on China’s far western border, and lies to the immediate east of the northernmost area of Jammu and Kashmir – an area now under the direct control of New Delhi. Beijing referred to Kashmir’s loss off special status as a “unilateral” challenge to the status quo along the border, calling it “unacceptable,” as it could lead to an escalation of tensions. New Delhi replied that China should not comment on something that is strictly an Indian internal matter.
Impacting regional borders . . .
India is one of the few countries with which China has unresolved land borders. It is now unclear if Beijing and New Delhi’s ongoing discussions will be derailed regarding both Aksai Chin and their other disputed territory further east: India-controlled Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as ‘South Tibet.’ One expert, writing in Lawfare, suggests that unlike the ideologically-charged border issues between Pakistan and India, China-India border issues are fundamentally not of an ideological nature, and, recent Chinese statements notwithstanding, may still be resolvable. However, The Diplomat projects that India’s moves might push China to take a harder and “more uncompromising” stance on both border issues.
The Afghanistan factor . . .
Another major geopolitical factor complicating the China-India-Pakistan relationship is that the Trump Administration is seeking to expedite the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. That might exacerbate the security and governance vacuum in Afghanistan, which could in turn have spillover effects in the form of an escalation of extremism, something China is extremely wary of. Washington will need to secure Pakistan’s co-operation in trying to manage this transition, helping to boost Pakistan’s otherwise weak hand.
- The Diplomat: How India’s Kashmir move may complicate its border dispute with China
- Lawfare: India’s move in Kashmir: Unpacking the domestic and international motivations and complications
- South China Morning Post: China calls India’s move to scrap Kashmir’s special status ‘not acceptable’ and not binding