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China strikes back on Arunachal

Barely weeks after it failed in its attempt to block Asian Development Bank funds to a project in Arunachal Pradesh,China has successfully struck back.

Written by Pranab Dhal Samanta | New Delhi |
September 18, 2009 2:39:24 pm

Barely weeks after it failed in its attempt to block Asian Development Bank (ADB) funds to a project in Arunachal Pradesh,China has successfully struck back.

Last month,in a development New Delhi has been quiet about,China won a vote on a “disclosure agreement,” which prevents ADB from formally acknowledging Arunachal Pradesh as part of India. (A disclosure agreement is a formal notification of a project once it’s approved by the ADB Board).

On June 16,India had successfully isolated China — the entire ADB Board except Beijing had voted in India’s favour — and secured approval for its $2.9-billion country plan. China had raised objections to the plan because it included $60-million projects in Arunachal Pradesh. It argued that ADB cannot fund projects in “disputed areas” like Arunachal Pradesh.

Clearly,China did not give up after that defeat and the reversal is symptomatic of its growing clout. It’s learnt that India lost the vote despite US and most of the Western bloc voting in India’s favour. In what was relatively a narrow margin,the scales were tilted in China’s favour by Japan,Australia and a group of other South East Asian countries. Despite US support,India was also surprised by the fact that Australia chose to go with China. Pakistan,of course,also went with China.

In particular,sources said,the role of Japan has come as a shock to India. Being the current chair of the ADB board,Japan allowed the matter to be put to vote.

Once that happened,Japan backed China indicating a shift in its political approach.

It now transpires that since the first vote where China was humiliated,it left no stone unturned in increasing pressure on South East Asian countries,and Japan and South Korea.

The defeat has caused considerable concern in official circles here. One view is that India should not take the $60 million meant for projects in Arunachal Pradesh. It’s quite possible that India will not use ADB funding for the state. In future,sources said,India will also have to be careful when it lists projects in “sensitive areas” for external funding.

The more serious ramification is diplomatic. There is a view that after the June 16 victory,India didn’t anticipate the Chinese response and so did not plan its lobbying as well as it did the first time. Incidentally,before the June vote,India had sent demarches to all 66 countries represented at the ADB.

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