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Tajikistan Cedes 1,000 Kilometers of Disputed Border Area to China

Jan. 14 – After roughly a century of tension, Tajikistan’s lower house of parliament ratified an agreement to redraw its border with China, giving China control of roughly 1,000 square kilometers of a 28,500-square-kilometer area under dispute in the remote Pamir Mountain Range.

Tajik Foreign Minister Khamrokhon Zarifi hailed the decision to cede roughly 3.5 percent of the disputed territory to China as a “great victory for Tajik diplomacy.”

“This is an important political event and will promote further expansion of Tajikistan’s ties with China,” Zarifi said according to The Times of India.

The territorial dispute dates back to the end of the 19th century and neither the Czarist Russian Empire or the Soviet Union was able to reach an agreement with China over the region.

China is the largest investor in Tajikistan and has invested vast sums of money in the country’s energy sector, as well as given favorable interest rates on loans for infrastructure and other public works projects.

Tajikistan’s Parliamentary deputies, though, said that they had remained ignorant of the intergovernmental agreement with China until only recently.

“The ratification of this protocol contradicts the constitution, which says the territory of our state is united and indivisible,” said Mukhiddin Kabiri, chairman of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan and one of only two opposition members of parliament.

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25 Responses to Tajikistan Cedes 1,000 Kilometers of Disputed Border Area to China

  1. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    China’s bilateral trade with Tajikistan is about USD500 million per annum, while various loans have been made totaling another billion dollars. If one were to be cynical, one could make a case for 1,000 sq km of mountainous Central Asia Real Estate to be worth about that much. How does that compare with real estate prices in Shanghai I wonder? Or how much to buy the entire country? – Chris

  2. The_Observer says:

    Chris,
    Your cynicism is overdone.
    China and Tajikistan negotiated this transfer back in 2002 and China accepted 5.5% of her original claim. You mentioned Tzarist Russia which was responsible for grabbing the disputed area from China in the 19th century. And Tzarist Russia wasn’t the only one as Britain, France and Japan were also hiving parts of China off at the time. The Tajiks when they got their independence in the 1990s fell into civil war. Even their own officials said that if China was to have grabbed a whole province of Tajikistan at the time no one would have come to the latter’s aid. To secure another one of their borders and ensure both peace and investments from China 1,000+ sq. kms is a small price for the Tajiks to pay. Both the Chinese and the Tajiks get along fine and were doing so even before this land ratification transfer. Both are members of the SCO and China is currently the largest investor Tajikistan.

  3. HK says:

    Tajikistan is a sparsely populated country. What would China do if China is India? Well sikkimized the country! This means drowning the country with migrants from China, then claim discrimination of the migrants. Finally the migrants voted the poor country into China and lauded it as an exercise in democracy. This happened in 1975 to Sikkim:

    http://www.nepalitimes.com.np/issue/35/Nation/9621

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,913029,00.html

    In the early 1990s, India attempt the same feat using pretty much the same tactics to Bhutan.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/10/07/world/india-based-groups-seek-to-disrupt-bhutan.html?src=pm

  4. Patriot KG says:

    The_Observer is telling the reality, whereas Chris you are trying to awake the patriotic feelings of Tajiks. Actually, it was the case in Kyrgyzstan and China came up with the historical documents related to land. However, another issue arise from this. If both countries let the China to ratify the boundaries, how we van be sure whether China will not come with new douments related to boudaries issue. It is really dangerous and the citizens of both countries must be aware of that.

  5. It is the economic might of China which has clinched this deal and Tajiks have been prudent. The rising new Chinese middle class reads western think tank journals and believe in Might.

  6. JJ says:

    This is more of a victory for Tajikistan than for China.

    For the Chinese, they don’t really care that much about the extra mountainous land. They just want to settle the dispute and move forward.

    For the Tajiks, to settle a century-long dispute with your banker and investor by ceding a mere 3.5% of disputed territory (ie, retaining just about the entire disputed territory) is an absolutely fantastic outcome!

    You can’t really ask for more.

  7. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    You’re right, I was being facetious. To make amends, there’s more on China/Tajik trade here: http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2008/05/22/china-reconnects-with-tajikistan.html
    Thanks – Chris

  8. HC says:

    This is more a victory for Tajikistan than China. China was asking for more than 28 times that amount of land.

    And let’s be serious, China could have taken it militarily, economically or any other way. Tajikistan isn’t a Japan, India or Russia etc. And Russia wouldn’t have helped it in a war.

    Imagine if China decided to cut aid or trade?

    This way, Tajikistan has resolved its border disputes while maintaining most of it’s territory.

  9. JJ says:

    Tajikistan is not a unique case.

    China has a history of settling border disputes in a very generous way.

    This article includes a list of China’s settlements with its neighbours :

    http://indiaschinablog.blogspot.com/2010/03/you-scratch-my-back-but-i-wont-scratch.html

  10. Deek says:

    @HK:

    How about Tibet and its demographics?

    And the demographics of Western province of Xinxiong (I hope my spelling is right)?

    Sikkim, Kashmir, and Arunachal are integral part of India. Its better to learn the present realities than dig up some 20 thousand old papers that mean nothing. Deal with it.

  11. Viv says:

    Poor people of Tajik…can’t blame them. Blame the security council. wtf they are doing? Keeping mum on this manic country. already this country is huge. what will it get by taking the lands of other country? It will only create enemies for China may be not for near future but in the long run they might be standing against almost every other nation. I hope some sense prevails in China. Power comes with responsibility. They should try to make friends rather than enemies.

  12. JJ says:

    @Viv,

    But the reality is the direct opposite to what you are saying.

    Disputed territory is disputed territory. If we had to take sides, then it seems that the Chinese have a habbit of GIVING AWAY land!!

    Just have a look at the statistics in this article:

    http://indiaschinablog.blogspot.com/2010/03/you-scratch-my-back-but-i-wont-scratch.html

    And then ask yourself this question:

    Every Asian country that shares land borders has border disputes. But have you seen ANY major power IN THE WORLD that has settled their disputes by so consistently settling for a miniscule portion of the disputed territory?

    China is the only one.

    Be honest.

  13. The_Observer says:

    @Deek
    The China-Tajikistan agreement sets a precedent and India would do well to follow in the good example shown. India holds Chinese land seized by Britain at the height of the latter’s imperial powers not because S. Tibet is an integral part of India. India could negotiate returning 5.5% of South Tibet(including Tawang) to China and have peace on her N.E. borders and acquire similar good will of her northern neighbor as the Tajiks have.

    @Viv
    Your rant is more a sign of jealousy than an honest appraisal. What’s it to you if China and Tajikistan can negotiate a peaceful settlement to their borders? As mentioned before China could have seized more land in the 1990s when Tajikistan was in turmoil but didn’t. The Chinese and the Tajiks already have good relations and as mentioned China is the biggest investor in Tajikistan.

  14. Deek says:

    @The_Observer

    What is South Tibet? There is no such thing as South Tibet. China “occupied” and still “occupies” Tibet. Arunachal Pradesh is an “integral” part of India.

    India is no Tajikistan. And I am sure that your esteemed leaders understand this. Tell me…do you “really” think that China can annex AP from India? Plz enlighten me with a scenario that will lead to it. n ya…did I mention that the war (if forced) would be a nuclear one.

  15. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    My view is that the Arunachal Pradesh issue is rather more about India hosting the Dalai Lama’s government in exile (which China views as subversive) rather than any legitimate claim, which is based purely on the fact the monastery at Tawang used to pay tributes to the Dalai Lama in Lhasa. I’m sure his position on the issue would be interesting as he was the authority in power prior to the Chinese Communist Party assuming that role. However China isn’t going to accept his view, which is almost certainly the one the Indian government upholds.
    It is useful to remember that the Communists grew out of the Bolshiviks, from whom we get the term “Bolshi” meaning “argumentative”. That includes tactics such as shouting down opposing voices and digging up all sorts of grey areas of history to support rather spurious claims as factual. – Chris

  16. The_Observer says:

    Chris,
    The claims are not spurious. The dispute goes back further than India’s hosting of the Dalai Lama. It goes all the way back to 1906 when Britain was at the height of her imperial powers forcing the Simla Agreement on the Chinese which the Chinese Nationalist Government refused to ratify. Years later in 2008 a historical statement was released by the British Foreign Office stating that the British government discarded the Simla agreement as an anachronism and a colonial legacy – a “position [the British] took based on the geo-politics of the time”. The British pulled away the only leg India had to stand on.
    See the following blog with references:
    http://blog.foolsmountain.com/2010/03/26/a-brief-history-of-the-sino-indian-border-dispute-and-the-role-of-tibet/
    which was also noted in an opinion piece in the New York Times:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/opinion/25barnett.html?_r=2&hp
    India may be a sub-continent but it took the British to put the current country together from the remnants of the old Mughal Empire with all the other pricely states. Left to the Indians themselves there would be many states scattered across the sub-continent. Even today in S. Tibet, the center neglects the Naga natives resulting in grieviences leading to rebellion.

  17. Viv says:

    @The_Observer
    Why same logic is not applied for China? If there is rebelion in Naga and the reason u give is the negligence of center then same thing should be applied in the case of Tibet and other regions which are so called “rebellion” states…ooops I should say Countries.

    and why dispute goes back only till 1906? If you argue land demarcation to be based on 19XX or 18XX documents then why not go beyond that? We should look at present realities. If we start using old documents then you won’t see Pakistan bangladesh etc. Present realities are different.

  18. Viv says:

    @ Observer

    If China has investments in Tajik then they are also benefitting. China is powerful, yes it could have taken more land by force but still it doesn’t mean that by taking slightly less land peacfully from tajik their act can be justified.

    Editor: Comment edited for profanity, please keep it civil.

  19. The_Observer says:

    @Viv
    Your argument is disingenuous. China is investing more money and infrastructure development in Tibet than the Indians ever will in South Tibet. The Indians thought they could get off cheap by not developing the region and in fact were attempting to remove the Nagas off their land so that energy and mineral concessions could be sold to the Indian and foreign companies. The Nagas justifiably rebelled and joined the Maoists. This is a case where India shot herself in the foot.
    Your other argument about looking at present realities could be thrown back at India. India keeps the largest number of her trooops in Jammu and Kashmir because most of the people there are Muslim and would opt for independence first or, failing that, joining Pakistan. The reality is that a large number of Indians want a Hindu state but at the same time still want to hold onto that majority Muslim province for “empire” and prestige’s sake. The contradictions abound and the whole country pays the price.

  20. Deek says:

    @Observer

    1. Just because China is putting money into Tibet does not mean that it has the right to own that land.

    2. North-East India is pretty peaceful now a days. Reason: Concerted efforts by Bangladesh and Burma to root out the militant hideouts. I think China also did that from its own territories..although there are some reports that the ULFA leader has recently made some trips to Tibet.

    3. In China there is a vast difference between its coastal areas and inland (in terms of investment, development, and growth). That does not mean that the coastal areas are more “chinese” and inland is less “chinese”. Does it?

    4. Lets not even talk about the religion (muslim) here. It sounds pretty pathetic coming from a regime that regularly oppresses religious freedom.

    5. There is a reason why China has territorial disputes with everyone around it. Look at the nationalistic feelings that you have for the country. You have no “desire” for basic and logical urge for human “freedom”. This is exactly what the regime wants. And kudos to them..they are damn successful in doing that.

  21. The_Observer says:

    @Deek
    I was conteracting Viv’s assertion of Tibet being neglected in comparison to the Indian occupied S. Tibet. If S. Tibet is peaceful today then that is great and I hope the Nagas, who are more closely related to Han Chinese and Burmese people, be given fair compensation for the natural resources on their land. And why not talk about Kashmir? There are several UN Security Council resolutions outstanding that have yet to be implemented. Why not give the Muslims their independence? There are no such similar UN resolutions on Tibet or Xinjiang.
    As for borders, China has in recent years settled most of her land borders with surrounding countries except for India. The border with Tajikistan which this article refers to was negotiated way back in 2002 and China waited until now for Tajikistan to ratify it.
    I’m also not saying that India should give up the whole of S. Tibet to China. I was saying earlier on that India the country was a creation initially of the British East India Company (remember them) and then of the British Empire. Imperial Britain imposed unequal treaties on China of which the Simla Agreement was one together with the heavily drawn McMahon Line both of which China rejected at the time and which Britain subsequently repudiated as well in 2008. India thus enjoys the benefits of “stolen fruit” left to them by the former British Empire. It is not just China that India has disputes with. India has quarrels with vitually all her neighbors, from running interference n grabbing land in Nepal, having supported Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka, wars with Pakistan, border quarrels with Bangladesh. As some other writer pointed out India had already grabbed Sikkim and tried the same with Bhutan. It is said that India resents the fact that Pakistan was partitioned from it and would have liked to include Afghanistan and Burma under its control. India, however, cannot be the British Empire redux, as the organizational and administrative skills are not there. Best for India to get rid of this empire complex, settle her boundary and border issues with her neighbors and concentrate on economic development.

  22. Spenta says:

    @observer: first- it is arunachal pradesh, the nagas live in nagaland and some areas of manipur. Second- the people of so called southern tibet is in no mood to join authoritarian china (i can say that coz i am one among them). Do not talk abt freedom of religion we know ur grusome treatment of peace loving buddhist monks in tibet.

    and ur peacefully solving boder problems:
    * create a fraudlent claim
    * harass ur neighbour over the claim eg- japan, india, vietnam
    * and after dat if u get even 3-5% of ur claim where is the loss?
    * claim this is “peacful rise of china”
    this is authoritarian china- democratic china would have been different.

  23. Deek says:

    @Observer

    Look at point #5 that I gave in my last post.

    Let me add some more to that:

    India is corrupt, inefficient, slow, plural, and messy. But the damn country works. Even I am surprised how it works…but it does. You know why…because people have voice. And everytime something breaks..there is a big hoopla…and the people at the top have to fix their acts.

    About North-East:

    You just heard from Spenta from Arunachal Pradesh. Let me add some more to that…my wife is from Manipur. So, I know “something” about the Naga-Manipur situation. n ofcourse you..sitting in Beijing/Shanghai can not possibly know anything.

  24. JJ says:

    @Viv,

    I am still waiting for your answer to my question above.

    —————

    @Deek,

    You mentioned China has territorial disputes with everyone around it. That’s actually not correct.

    China shares land borders with 14 countries. But it currently has territorial disputes with 1 country only (India). (Not counting maritime territorial disputes)

    On the other hand, India shares land borders with only 6 countries. But it has territorial disputes with 5 of them (Not counting maritime territorial disputes with Sri Lanka).

    Amazingly, on top of that 5, India also has territorial disputes with Taiwan!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_territorial_disputes#Asia_and_the_Pacific

  25. Max Aureliouse says:

    we can’t blame anyone but Tajiks government themselves, now this could be a lesson for the tajik goverment, so now you can request for your own historical land of Samarqand and Bukhara…….

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