Around the same time, former army chief Gen. J.J. Singh was appointed governor of the state and is ramping up infrastructure, power and telecom projects.
“Never before in the history of this region has such a massive development program been conducted here,” he said, sipping tea at his residence.
Singh, who spent much of his army career in Arunachal, said India and China both realize “there is enough place and space for both of us to develop. A very mature and pragmatic approach is being taken by both.”
But despite 15 rounds of high-level talks, the border issue looks as knotty as ever. Indian media often whip up anger at Chinese border incursions, played down by both governments as a natural result of differing perceptions of where the border lies. India’s defense minister told parliament 500 incursions have been reported in the last two years.
Unable to match China’s transport network, India’s focus is now on maintaining more troops close to the border.
“India struggles to build up infrastructure,” said Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who has written extensively on the India-China relationship. “They have been trying to do this for the past six or seven years now, and it is progressing far more slowly than they would like. What they have done in the interim is build up the troop strength.”
COURTING THE LAMAS
One of main irritants in India-China relations, and a key part of China’s claim to Arunachal, is Tibetan Buddhism. Beijing claims a centuries-old sovereignty over Arunachal and the rest of the Himalayan region.
India hosts the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan government-in-exile. When the Dalai Lama fled Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959, his first stop was the Buddhist monastery in the Arunachal town of Tawang near the border. Three years later, China occupied the fortress-like hilltop monastery in the 1962 war before withdrawing to the current lines.