When’s a treaty too old to be of “practical significance”? Only when China says it is
Transboundary tensions between India and China, which share a border of more than 2,000 miles in length, are common. Both sides accuse the other regular incursions, but this time is much more serious: an editorial this week in Global Times’s China-controlled state motto warned that if there was a conflict, India “suffer the worst losses in 1962,” A reference to the bitter war between the two countries.
The wave of China’s statements in recent days on the subject also showed a major disconnect from its position in two very different treaties with Britain, almost a century later.
Tensions erupted last month after Chinese troops with road construction materials entered the Doklam plateau region, an area where an official border has not yet been defined between Bhutan and China.
The remote control Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which is based in India for its security, calls the Indian armed forces for assistance to the disputed area, which is very close to the Indian state of Sikkim.
China called for the elimination of Indian troops, saying that the area where construction takes place within their jurisdiction; India said its troop movements are in line with its agreements with Bhutan.
In the war of words over who is right, India and China have cited past agreements – in some cases quite old. China said last week that its rights over the area in question are clearly established by an agreement of 1890, the Calcutta Convention.
“Agreement between Britain and China consider Sikkim and Tibet, which was formally signed between the Qing government of China and Britain in 1890, explicitly stipulates the border between Xi Zang [Tibetan] China and Sikkim Britain,” said Ministry spokesman Foreign Affairs Committee at a conference this week.
A small thing this treaty was signed between the parts that are obsolete nowadays.
Britain dominated at the time of Sikkim through the Treaty of Titalia 1817 between the British East India Company and the leader of the region, reinstated by British forces. But Sikkim is no longer “from Great Britain”; It became part of India in 1975. On the Chinese side, the treaty was negotiated by the Qing Dynasty, whose rule was completed in the 20th century.
However, China’s position may be perfectly justifiable under international law. Successor States, and often can comply with the Treaties of the rules they replaced. For example, the 99-year lease that it gave to the New Hong Kong Territories in Great Britain on June 30, 1997 has also been negotiated during the Qing government. However, the People’s Republic of China, the communist state founded in 1949, has been blocked.
China said successive indigenous leaders have chosen to comply with the terms of the agreement, putting it into the present.
“Successive governments on both sides have recognized the effectiveness of the Convention and have repeatedly confirmed this in a series of official documents and discussions,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. India said that it distorts its position, and recent press reports have cited letters and press conferences former Indian ministers.