‘A solution is unlikely in the foreseeable future as India too will not accept the LAC’

China will not accept the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — the effective current boundary with India — as an eventual settlement to the long-running border dispute, according to a commentary published in a newspaper with ties to the Communist Party.

The commentary said a solution to the boundary dispute was unlikely in the foreseeable future as China, as well as India, would not accept the LAC.

As the LAC would not be an acceptable boundary to China, the article ruled out the likelihood of a status quo settlement to the long-running dispute.

With boundary talks failing to achieve a breakthrough after 15 rounds, the commentary suggested both sides instead look to jointly develop disputed regions rather than focus on a solution to the dispute.

Commentaries in Chinese State-run media rarely discuss the specifics of the on-going negotiations over the border, over which 15 rounds of talks have been held. The article was published on Thursday by the Jiefang Daily, or Liberation Daily, a newspaper with close ties to the Communist Party in Shanghai.

The timing of the commentary, on the anniversary of the 1962 war, made it unlikely that it could have been published without the party’s approval. According to two journalists at prominent State media organs, media outlets have been told to follow an unofficial directive “to not play up” the anniversary, and only use Xinhua dispatches in coverage. However, a few outlets, such as the nationalistic Global Times, which is published by the People’s Daily but seen as less authoritative, and the Liberation Daily, have been given some leeway to publish pieces.

Status quo settlement

China had, in the past, suggested it might accept the LAC as a status quo settlement to the boundary dispute. In 1980, the former leader, Deng Xiaoping, hinted that China might be open to a swap deal that saw India give up its claims to Aksai Chin, which is currently administered by China. China would, in return, give up claims to the eastern sector and Arunachal Pradesh.

But since the mid-1980s, China has begun to increasingly voice claims on Arunachal Pradesh, and particularly on Tawang, referring to the State as “south Tibet” in official commentaries.

The Jiefang Daily article was authored by Wu Yongnian, a researcher of the Shanghai Institute of International Affairs. Mr. Wu said as China and India would not accept the LAC, a settlement to the boundary dispute would remain unlikely.

‘Problem is too complex’

The border problem, he said, was too complex. With more than a dozen round of negotiations failing to achieve a breakthrough, he suggested there was a perception in some quarters that talks were at a dead end.

Economic development zone suggested

He said one way to deal with the dilemma would be to create an economic development zone that would link Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet, and shelve the boundary dispute temporarily. He suggested it could serve as a new model to resolve boundary disputes, and might pave the way to an eventual settlement.

He said the timing for such an unconventional move was right, with both India and China focused on economic development. With the border dispute remaining an obstacle to overall ties, he suggested the move would be a breakthrough for the relationship. While it is unlikely that Mr. Wu’s article could have been published without the approval of party censors, it is unclear whether his proposal has received backing from any sections of the Chinese government.

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