7 July 2017   Leave a comment

The G-20 meeting had a host of agenda items, including climate change and maintaining the free trade system.  It appears, however, that US President Trump, in a very dramatic shift of American policy, is not interested in these issues or in protecting the liberal order established by the US in 1945.  The vacuum created by the US decision leaves the world adrift, with an unlikely quartet of leaders–Merkel, Xi, Putin, and Modi–unprepared and ill-equipped to maintain the stability of the international system.  It remains to be seen whether these leaders can, over time, agree on the rules of a possible system with an absent, and possibly recalcitrant, US.

The US Recedes at the G-20

Trump waits for a working session to start during the G-20. (Getty)

While most of the media is focused on the Trump-Putin relationship at Hamburg, there is an equally important confrontation going on between Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi over a disputed border.  The dispute is long-standing but has flared up recently and it involves a road the Chinese are building over the Doklam plains in the Chumbi Valley, an area under the nominal control of Bhutan. Sikkim became an Indian protectorate in 1950 and an official Indian state in 1975, but China has never officially recognized Indian control over the territory.  The India-China border is a constant irritant since much of the border is based upon what is known as the McMahon Line which was drawn in the early 20th century by the British:

“In the early 20th Century Britain sought to advance its line of control and establish buffer zones around its colony in South Asia. In 1913-1914 representatives of China, Tibet and Britain negotiated a treaty in India: the Simla Convention. Sir Henry McMahon, the foreign secretary of British India at the time, drew up the 550 mile (890 km) McMahon Line as the border between British India and Tibet during the Simla Conference. The so-called McMahon Line, drawn primarily on the highest watershed principle, demarcated what had previously been unclaimed or undefined borders between Britain and Tibet. The McMahon line moved British control substantially northwards. The Tibetan and British representatives at the conference agreed to the line, which ceded Tawang and other Tibetan areas to the imperial British Empire. However the Chinese representative refused to accept the line. Peking claimed territory in this far north down to the border of the plain of Assam.”

Armed conflict has broken out between the two states at various points and the Chinese seem to be pushing the issue harder than usual as it tries to establish more firmly its sovereignty over the East and South China Seas as well as along the Indian border.


Posted July 7, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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