Saturday, August 21, 2010

Feeding the enemy

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Today the trade between India and China at Nathu-la is stagnating. It has not always been the case.
In the early 1950's, the Chinese needed to feed the PLA building roads towards the Indian border. They dediced to import rice from India through the Sikkim border (Jalep-la). I quote from my book Born in Sin, the Panchsheel Agreement
"The Chinese were becoming greedier, they now wanted the rice to be delivered at Phari instead of Yatung. John Lall, a former Dewan of Sikkim, was posted in Gangtok when the supply of rice was in transit; he could witness the long caravan of mules leaving in the direction of Nathu-la. In his book on Aksai Chin, he recalled: "But suddenly all was sweetness and light. The reason became apparent when a request was made for shipment of Chinese rice through India and Sikkim to their troops in Tibet. This could, and indeed should, have been made the occasion for a settlement of the major problems with China as a prelude to the altogether unprecedented help requested from the Government of India. It simply did not occur to anyone in Delhi, and which caution as I advised was brushed aside. Released from anxiety on accounts of supplies, the Chinese and local Tibetan labour were able to press ahead with the vitally important task of creating a network of communications to defend frontiers of China with India."
Today business is practically nil, but the Chinese are still building roads towards the Indian border.
Infrastructure development was raised in the Rajya Sabha by Former Union Minister and Congress MP Ashwani Kumar. He expressed concern over the media reports that China was pursuing a major military build-up in a 'secretive manner' near India’s border.
Though it is wrong to say that the Chinese are doing it 'secretly', the development of Nyngtri and Ngari districts in Tibet, north of Arunachal and Himachal/Ladakh respectively, is going on full swing.

Ashwani Kunar speaking during the Zero Hour, said that "A peaceful and harmonious relationship with China was in national interest, but India cannot forget the historical facts. ...A rising India cannot be apologetic for an enhanced  defense expenditure necessary to secure its strategic interests.”
India is not apologetic, India is a slow moving elephant.

Nathu La border trade remains a no show this year too
Businessmen blame it on obsolete items on trade list. 
Karma Samten Yangzom
Gangtok, Aug. 18
Barely three months are left for this year's Nathu La trade to end, but there is very little to show for.
The fifth season of the Nathu La border trade between Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region in China continues its jinxed run with no imports taking place since the border opened for this year in May. Indian traders have recorded abysmally low business transactions — the same as the pervious years.
Reports of the State Commerce and Industries Department says that exports from Sikkim have been averaging at Rs 35 lakh a month but there has been consistent recording of absolutely nil imports.
For the second consecutive year, the import figures have remained at a dismal zero till date.
As for exports, May saw the highest figures at Rs 45 lakh. The largest item of export was vegetable oil at Rs 18 lakh. The lowest was cigarettes at just Rs 3,000. In June, exports were to the tune of Rs 36 lakh with the largest item of export being vegetable oil at Rs 16 lakh while the lowest was tea at Rs 32,750. In July, exports stood at Rs 35 lakh. This time the largest item of export was canned food at Rs 8 lakh and the lowest was tea at Rs 85,000.
Last year too the Nathu La border trade closed with zero imports.
Traders on both sides of the border have attributed this lopsided business transaction to the list of tradable items, which do not cater to modern needs.
According to the bilateral agreement in 2006, only 29 items can be exported to TAR from the Indian side while Chinese traders can export 15 items.
Most of these items do not have commercial value, a fact both the Chinese and Sikkimese traders have highlighted in the past four years. The demand to alter the list is yet to be heeded by the Centre.
Sikkimese traders have reiterated that the old list of items has no commercial value.
They have been demanding a revision and expansion of the import-export list for increasing the volume of border trade.
The Sikkim Government, through the nodal State Commerce and Industries Department, has repeatedly written to the Centre seeking an enhancement of the list of items allowed for trade.
However, recent reports have suggested that the Central Government has made it clear that there can be no increase in the list for this season, especially as there has been no proposal for enhancement of the list from the Chinese side.
The trade is due to close on November 30 for this session.

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