The devil is in the detail…

So, if you ever needed reminding why Tibetology, and the detailed analysis of Anglo-Tibetan relations, is important and relevant, here it is: The world’s two largest nations, accounting for about 1/3 of the global population, both armed to the high teeth with nuclear weapons and global ambitions, having an undignified and unfortunate scrap about Tibetan border areas, and the much disputed McMahon Line.

As the article points out, “China, India’s largest trading partner, claims sovereignty over parts of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh and calls it southern Tibet. It refuses to recognize the “imperialist” 1913 Shimla Convention under which Tibet ceded Tawang to India and regards its border with India – the McMahon line – as disputed.”

The McMahon Line is a line agreed to by Great Britain and Tibet as part of Shimla Accord, a treaty signed in 1914. Although its legal status is disputed by China, it is the effective boundary between China and India. The line is named after Sir Henry McMahon, foreign secretary of British India and the chief negotiator of the convention. It extends for 550 miles from Bhutan in the west to 160 miles east of the great bend of the Brahmaputra River in the east, largely along the crest of the Himalayas. The Shimla Convention was a disputed treaty concerning the status of Tibet negotiated by representatives of China, Tibet and Britain in 1914. The Simla Accord provided that “Outer Tibet” would “remain in the hands of the Tibetan Government at Lhasa.” This region, approximately the same as today’s Tibet Autonomous Region, would be under Chinese suzerainty, but China would not interfere in its administration. Not that it really matters, the Chinese delegation walked away, and never recognised or ratified the treaty. 

This spat is important as, while the article is written from an Indian perspective, national pride and tender toes are still evident in the region following a series of disastrous wars in the 1960’s between India and China over the border regions. I do like the reporting that the Chinese ambassador told the journalist to “Shut up!” … however I doubt those were his exact words!

 

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