he Chinese are masters of the art of denial and deception. At a recent closed-door meeting of a reputed Beijing-based think-tank, Chinese experts told three Indians that China would be "magnanimous" in Aksai Chin if India agreed to give up Tawang. Among the Chinese experts were Sun Shi Hai, deputy director of Asia Pacific Studies and advisor to the highest in the country’s power structure; Ma Jia Li, a senior analyst connected with China’s foreign intelligence arm; and Chen Rui Sheng, a former ambassador to India. The so-called Indian representatives, by contrast, didn’t possess expertise in the Sino-India relationship.
Through the Beijing meet, the Chinese have emphatically conveyed that Tawang is non-negotiable in a final settlement of the border issue. Located strategically at the Bhutan-Tibet-India tri-junction, a transfer of Tawang to China will bring this point further down south to the slender Siliguri corridor joining the Northeast to the rest of India. With Beijing’s claim in Bhutan also inching closer to the Indian border,...