Nearly 90 percent of China’s land boundaries have
been agreed, leaving only the Sino-Indian section a key issue.
“China and India have envisaged a political
settlement of their decades-old boundary dispute although the
survey will take a prolonged period of time and will be an arduous
task,” said Ouyang Yujing, division director of the Department of
Treaty and Law affiliated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The total length of Sino-Indian boundary is nearly
2,000 kilometers with 125,000 square km in dispute, in which,
90,000 square km is in the eastern section, 2,000 square km in the
middle section and the rest in the western section. The eastern and
middle sections are now almost completely controlled by India.
The Sino-Indian boundary disputes remain from the
UK government’s drawing up of the MacArthur line by Henry McMahon
and local representatives of China’s Tibet in 1914, but never
recognized by any central government of China.
The Indian government inherited the MacArthur line
after independence in 1947, and a war between China and India broke
out in October 1962 because of the dispute.
Boundary disputes also triggered wars in 1969 at
Zhenbao Island between China and the former Soviet Union and in
1979 between China and Vietnam.
With a land boundary exceeding 22,800 kilometers in
length, China is bordered by 14 countries.
The longest boundary of 4,710 kilometers, between
China and Mongolia, was settled in the early 1960s. Since then, the
two countries have conducted two boundary reviews.
“Two approaches should be taken when handling
boundary disputes,” said Ouyang, “First, two countries should
jointly conclude a boundary treaty after taking politics,
strategies, diplomacies and nations’ security into
Second, the two countries should jointly conduct
surveys, re-demarcating boundary lines according to the lines on
the former maps and setting up new boundary markers.”
“The two countries should finally sign a boundary
protocol described by legal language and draw new maps,” he
Boundary surveying is hard work because natural
environments along boundaries are often difficult.
Boundaries are formally settled once boundary
markers have set up, and there are nearly 5,000 markers on China’s
“Countries make boundary reviews every 10 to 20
years to jointly check markers and assure they are in good
condition,” Ouyang said.
So far, China has finished such reviews with 10 of
12 bordered countries.
A survey is now being done by China and Vietnam.
Another one between China and Tajikistan will start this year.
Boundary surveys are a sensitive issue and impact
on issues including handling border incidents, border trade, border
source protection and border entry administration.
“Being friendly with our neighbors and taking them
as partners are the guidelines for China's relations with its
neighbors," Ouyang said.
(China Youth Daily, China.org.cn, May 5,