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IR Working Paper 1993/1
Gary Klintworth, ‘The Practice of Common Security: China’s Borders with Russia and India’, IR Working Paper 1993/1, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, March 1993.
China, India and Russia are the three largest countries in Eurasia. Their common borders, the longest in the world, have been amongst the most disputed and tense. Perceptions of threat from the neighbour to the north in each case helped to prolong and complicate sub-regional tension in Korea, Indochina and South Asia. Today the borders between China and India, and China and Russia, are remarkably quiet. The common trend along both is for a steady reduction in the level of military forces previously deployed and the practical implementation of confidence-building measures. All three states seem intent on signalling a non-provocative defence posture designed to reassure rather than threaten, as before. In the case of China and Russia, demarcation of the border is almost complete. India and China have also made considerable progress in their border talks. Ironically, while the physical limits of the states concerned have been more clearly defined, the barriers between them have come down. This has contributed to the easing of tension amongst the buffer states between or neighbouring the three big Eurasian powers. One important consequence is that China finds itself in a position never before so secure from external military threat.