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World's most bizzare border dispute baffles Asian nuclear superpowers

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tensions between the world's two most populous countries have drawn down as Chinese and Indian troops agreed to pull back from advanced positions on a high Himalaya plateau. The bizarre border dispute has lasted for 50 years.

NEW DELI, INDIA (Catholic Online) - On Sunday, Indian and Chinese soldiers both packed their tents and walked away from opposing positions on the Depsang Plain. According to both sides, a deal had been reached whereby both would pull back their forces on the plain. Neither side commented on the details of the deal, other than it involved a mutual withdraw.

The Despang plain is a windswept plateau that rests at 16,000 feet. It's both desolate and remote, but both sides say it belongs to them.

The Despang Plain was initially occupied by the Chinese in 1962, which provoked an Indian response. Neither side engaged in fighting, and the Chinese made a partial withdraw within days. Both sides have agreed to draw a border there, but neither can agree on precisely where.

China claims the eastern portion of the plain, while India claims the whole of it.

On April 15, Chinese troops moved onto the plain again, carrying marker flags to signify they were in friendly territory. Indian troops saw this as an incursion, but did not fire on their Chinese counterparts. Instead, they make a diplomatic protest.

According to Indian authorities, Chinese soldiers crossed more than 12 miles into Indian territory.

However, military commanders from both sides have already met and according to Indian officials, agreed on the mutual withdraw of forces.

China says it never crossed the border.

The plateau has no special significance for either side and provides no significant resources. Although it is close to the border with Pakistan, the mountains above are covered with snow and glaciers and are difficult to pass. China already shares a lengthy border with Pakistan anyway. The entire dispute is grounded in prestige rather than wealth.

However, the tensions have threatened to overshadow the visit of the Indian foreign minister to Beijing on May 9. For now, they appear to be resolved, although Chinese motivation to move onto the plateau remains a mystery.

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