India and China still have a fight to settle. In 1962, at a time when both were troubled developing countries, they fought a brief war over a section of territory that could be up to 90,000 square kilometers.
Through the end of October and most of November of that year, China advanced on what was then Indian-controlled territory. In late November, China declared a unilateral ceasefire. A formal ceasefire agreement was never drawn up. India says China still controls more than 30,000 sq km of its territory.
Depending on who you talk to on the ground in India, the remnants of the war are either little more than an annoying reminder of potential tensions between the two emerging powers or an enormous unmentioned elephant that has to be dealt with before the two countries can really get down to the business of trade.
In 2005, India and China agreed to a framework that would eventually see the territorial dispute settled. Despite increasingly amicable relations, however, the dispute is still officially in the books.
Now, after 45 years, India said the two countries are working to find a "final settlement".
This is good news. No matter how good relations may be, there is still a wide streak of mistrust on both sides. Politicians do their best to overcome with a reasonably steady stream of mutual visits but the mistrust is still there. In India, Chinese often have to deal with suspicions and their products are often considered as cheap and second rate. The lack of trust also occasionally surfaces in China as well.
Last month, the two countries met for a 10th round of talks on the subject. The talks continue to move forward; even though little tangible news of progress has emerged, the fact that both countries are moving closer to a resolution is telling. These two countries are likely to be the most significant of the coming century and their willingness to settle old disputes amicably is a good sign of things to come.
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