China: relations with neighbours

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China's relations with its neighbours, 2017

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As in 2017

Saibal Dasgupta |China's neighbours: Friends, foes and frenemies| Aug 21, 2017 | IndiaTimes/ The Times of India


China has sharp differences with almost all its neighbours.

But resistance to Beijing's aggressive claims is increasingly weakening.

Mongolia, Vietnam and India are among a handful critical of China's strong-arm tactics.

NEW DELHI: China has sharp differences with almost all its neighbours. But their resistance to Beijing's aggressive claims is increasingly weakening as its investments grow in the region. Mongolia, Vietnam and India are among a handful critical of its strong-arm tactics, along with Japan and Taiwan. A recent Asean meeting where the bloc was expected to push for a non-aggression pact with China saw a tepid response to the proposal. As Japan backs India on the Doklam standoff, here's a look at how China is gaming the region with mega deals and Beijing's relations with its neighbours.

KYRGYZSTAN | NEUTRAL | Common border: 858km

Next to China's restive Xinjiang province. China initially claimed most parts of the country

Kyrgyzstan has both a US and a Russian military base

Beijing-Bishkek relationship status remains 'complicated'The Kyrgyz are one of 56 ethnic groups recognised in ChinaBeijing is wary of Kyrgyz migrants coming in, and the arms smuggling into Xinjiang

DEAL: Under Almazbek Atambaev, China has overtaken Russia as largest trade partner.


Most of China's claims satisfied in various border agreements

Moscow's close ally has 3% (30bn barrels) of world's oil reserves and is is gung-ho about OBOR

DEAL: Beijing has invested in a free trade zone at the border, making the Khorgos Gateway at their border the world's largest dry port.

MONGOLIA | CRITIC | 4,677 km

China claims all of Mongolia citing the Yuan dynasty rule (1271-1368)

New president Khaltmaagiin Battulga, a vocal China critic, is eager to reduce dependence on Beijing, which accounts for 90% of its exports, 30% of imports

Ulanbaatar has also sought deeper ties with New Delhi

DEAL: Beijing is set to invest $30bn in the next few years for a route across the Gobi desert to Russia via Mongolia

China's friends and enemies in its neighbourhood, 2017


Xi has said relations between Beijing & Moscow are "at their best time in history", but Beijing's growing influence & investments in Russia's backyard has seen the two in serious competition


China's area increased by 1,000sq km in Pamir mountains when Dushanbe ceded 5% of the land China 'sought', settling a 130-yr-long disputeChina's for now relinquished claims over 28,000sq km

Unclear which part of Pamir moutains was ceded

DEAL: Beijing is biggest investor particularly in energy and infra


Beijing claims Baekdu Mountain and Jiandao The North's dependent on strongest ally China for even food, but Beijing has of late been wary of Kim Jong-un


Claims on area in East China SeaChina strongly objects to Seoul and US deploying antimissile THAAD system to counter the NorthChina says the radar can probe its territory


Worst rivals on economic competition and territorial disputes, especially over Senkaku Islands


China claims all of taiwantaipei still has its own currency and military and receives arms from the usrecognised as a country separate from china by 19 nations of 193 un member states


Dispute in Spratly Islands


Dispute in Spratly Islands


Long-time China ally


One of the most vocal critics that filed and won a case against China's claims on its Scarborough Shoal in a UN-backed tribunalYet, Manila played down the verdict, with new president Rodrigo Duterte warming to Beijing this past year


Most outspoken among China's neighbours in the region Has both land and sea disputes, Paracel & Spratly Islands

With Spain's help, Vietnam is exploring for oil/ natural gas beneath the seabed near Vanguard Bank, under Vietnamese control but which Beijing claims

Beijing also resents Vietnam's deal with ONGC to explore a tract China contests

LAOS | FRIEND | 423km

Beijing cites the Yuan dynasty to stake claim

DEAL: Not just infra, China has been rapidly buying up jumbos in the poor nation, once known as the land of a million elephants

MYANMAR | FRIEND | 2,185km

De facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has increasingly preferred to do business with China, now Myanmar's largest trade partner and largest source of investment, from ports and roads to energy and power


Despite a 1963 treaty settling border issues, analysts believe China has encroached on Afghan land in the Badakhshan province, that includes the strategic Wakhan Corridor (Pakistan and Karakoram to the south, Tajikistan to the north, Xinjiang to its east)

DEAL: Beijing wants close ties and a counter-terror network but Ashraf Ghani is reluctant

Xi wants to extend China-Pak Economic Corridor to Afghanistan


China meets Pakistan through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan

Beijing's been worried about the resurgence of border dispute between Pakistan and Afghanistan

NEPAL | NEUTRAL | 1,236km

China and Nepal signed a border agreement in 1963, year after the Sino-Indian war

But the status of Lipu-Lekh Pass in Nepal remains controversial

India is at risk of losing the Nepalese transit trade to China, whose high-speed rail link promises capacity, speed and efficiency

DEAL: China's increasing its trade with Nepal


China claims about 270sqkm in the east and west along the contiguous border

Thimphu, while balancing its relations with India and China, talks of Doklam as a disputed area



The Spratly Islands is a group of over 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays, and islands that 4 nations claimIslands are 800km from China's coast


China militarised the South China Sea along its claims of the ninedash line, added islands now bristling with military hardware, and set up a full base on Fiery Cross islandIn all 3,200 acres of land have been 'made' on seven features

Location of manmade islands are the furthest possible range of Beijing's planes, and radio stations

The new bases ensure China has every area covered in a triangle with range that extends across South China Sea

The only area not covered is the north east — Scarborough Shoal; hence China's fight with Philippines for a reef 650km away from the mainland

Building military bases here guarantees China coverage of all of South China Sea in terms of radio and military range

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