Tag Archives: border security

Border dispute continues to undermine the India-China relationship, experts say

WASHINGTON – During three days in China recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed more than $22 billion in business deals with Beijing. However, it did not necessarily seem to be an improvement regarding the complicated bilateral relationship.

Underlying this positive new sign of cooperation are still a number of fundamental problems, the most central of which is regional security. Most foreign policy experts foresee the long-running border dispute will continue to diminish the partnership, no matter who’s in power.

“The structure of rivals is kind of the major affecter,” said Brookings India Project fellow Tanvi Madan on May 20, at a panel discussion that assessed the Modi government after one year. “On security it’s not negotiable. If there is a border incident, we [India] are going to push you [China] back and we are going to do it in a much stricter way.”

Brookings India Project fellow Tanvi Madan assessed Indian Prime Minister Modi's foreign policy on May 20, one year after Modi took office.

Brookings India Project fellow Tanvi Madan assessed Indian Prime Minister Modi’s foreign policy on May 20, one year after Modi took office. (Andersen Xia/MEDILL NSJI)

The 3,500 km border between the two Asian giants has been in dispute since 1914, when Britain signed an agreement with Tibet placing the de-facto border along the Himalayas from Bhutan in the west to the Brahmaputra River in the east.

Since then, both sides were unable to reach a political accommodation on the disputed territory until an informal cease-fire line, the “Line of Actual Control,” was drawn after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, which broke out because of the Himalayan border. However, it is neither marked on the ground nor on mutually acceptable maps, which has led to exacerbated tensions.

The summit talks in China were an attempt by the Modi government to formalize the LAC to ease border tension, but failed to make any headway in resolving the problem because of the size of the disputed territory and the complexity of the issue, the Defense News reported on May 23.

“Beijing wants to keep the boundary dispute alive and India will have to be prepared to fight a war with both Pakistan and China simultaneously at a future date because the boundary dispute can suddenly flare up,” defense analyst Nitin Mehta said to the Defense News.

The dispute, moreover, is not something only about India and China.

“The enemy of our enemy is our friend,” Baoping Liao, a Chinese columnist, said when describing the close tie between China and Pakistan, whose relationship with India has been plagued by hostility and suspicion due to numerous historical and political conflicts.

As one of the most important allies of China, Pakistan provides a bridge for China to connect with the Middle East in terms of economic activities and counter-terrorism efforts. It also prevents China from being fully targeted by India by keeping India’s military power engaged through a series of conflicts.

Seeing the China-Pakistan relationship as one that is built on the foundations of anti-Indian sentiment, New Delhi is so concerned that it started to lean on the U.S. to put a tight rein on China, Liao said.

During a trip to India four months ago, President Barack Obama concluded a series of agreements with Modi, which, for the first time ever, included issues relating to the disputed South China Sea. Both sides pronounced their joint support for the principle of the freedom navigation in the contested waters and for resolving territorial disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which defines the rights and the responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans.

“It’s apparent that India is attempting to establish a strategic alliance relationship with the U.S. to make sure it has its own benefits,” Liao said. He concluded in a Chinese article that it would limit the India-China relationship from going further despite the healthy collaboration on economy and trade.

Madan said the best way for Beijing to make sure India does not take part in any containment strategy, a military policy to stop the expansion of an enemy, is to actually engage and cooperate with India.

“Deal with it on equal terms. Sort the border dispute out,” Madan said the same goes for India, with respect to Beijing.

Links: Border Security and Costs

June 2009 GAO Border Patrol Funding

Audit of the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System

Secure Border Initiative

Could privatizing our borders be the answer?

With concerns over the seemingly open U.S. borders as prevalent as ever, and with ever-increasing costs to maintain our current US-Mexico border fence, could the answer be privatization?

And could Blackwater USA be that private security firm that finally takes control of our borders?

Blackwater and the border

With taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars and thousands of Border Patrol agents, and with the desired result not materializing, an option that must be considered is to hire an outside firm with the resources to protect our borders.

A 2008 Salon article titled “Blackwater’s run for the Border” may have hit the proverbial nail on its head.  There was no controversial Arizona immigration law, at the time.  There wasn’t quite the same firestorm calling for more money and more troops along the border. And now it seems like the current border fence may just be a black hole in which taxpayer dollars disappear.

On May 11, Arizona Representative Ann Kirkpatrick introduced a bill that called for an additional 3,500 border patrol agents.  However, the US. Government Accountability Office reported in 2009 that it would cost $159,642 per each new Border Patrol agent. That would mean an about an additional $560 million per year put upon taxpayers.  And that is on top of the approximate $3.2 billion already spent per year on Border Patrol agents.

Which takes us back to privatizing the border and Blackwater.  In the Salon article, Democratic Rep. Bob Filner was quoted as saying “You have to be very wary of mercenary soldiers in a democracy, which is more fragile than people think. You don’t want armies around who will sell out to the highest bidder.”

A 2006 article published by The Heritage Foundation titled “Better, Faster, and Cheaper Border security” called for a total revision of border strategy and said the current approaches to border security are “static and deeply flawed.”  The article went on to say that relying on military assets is “costly and inefficient and detracts from the military’s ability to perform its other essential missions.”  One proposed solution would be to use contractors, such as Blackwater.

Whether or not our border is privatized in the near future, it is clear that something different must be done.  Our current border strategy does not seem to be working, as evident by the issues seen in Arizona, and a new approach may be just what is needed to make our borders safe once again.

Arizona immigration bill sparks protests, Obama calls bill "misguided"

Update 4/23/10, 4:01pm CT: Governor Brewer has signed the immigration bill into law.

On the heels of a plan to beef up border security in Arizona (read Abby Sewell’s report), the governor of the state has signed a bill that, according to news reports on azcentral.com, has sparked protests from students and Latino advocates who say the bill legalizes racial profiling.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill Friday. The law takes effect in 90 days.

Further reading: Text of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (PDF)

Interactive Map: Canadian/Mexican/USA Border Security Incidents