Peaceful Resolution of China/Tajikistan Border Dispute

The Canadian Press recently reported that China and Tajikistan have resolved a border dispute in the Pamir Mountains region that dates back to the 19th Century.  Both sides arrived at the final resolution through diplomacy and direct consultations.

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, the border treaty “thoroughly resolv[es] the boundary issue left over from history.” 

This process of border resolution stands in stark contrast to patterns of state-based territorial domination that have resulted in on-going conflict.  According to Sukhrob Sharipov, head of Tajikistan’s government-affiliated Center for Strategic Studies, Tajikistan risked suffering much greater territorial losses in its recent past, he said. “After the collapse of Soviet Union, Tajikistan was on the verge of collapse — China could easily have snatched the whole of (the eastern Badakhshan province), and nobody would have even made a sound,” he said.  Reflecting a new stage of diplomatic resolution, Sharipov said Thursday that the deal would ensure the inviolability of the country’s borders for decades to come.

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Bridging East and West through the Arts

Long before the creation of centers for dispute resolution, artists have promoted understanding and unity through their work.  Art can be seen then as a powerful means of conflict prevention.  Several artists today have created beautiful work that draws on inspiration from east and west.

Living in Beijing, China, Shirin Sahba describes her “commitments to canvas” as arising from “her reflections on the nature of diverse peoples’ engagements with myriad spaces have evolved a unique consciousness in her art: humanity is one and humanity’s watchword is unity in diversity. And to accept this is to insist on drawing (out) the joy, the goodness, the beauty of people relating to people relating to spaces.”  This beauty, blending and merging of the diversity and vibrancy of east and west comes through in her vibrant paintings.

Lin Feng Mian (1900-1991) similarly integrated elements of east and west in his oil and ink paintings.  His painting of a pond of lotus flowers captures the beauty of the lotus flower with sharp depth and realism.

Orion Nebula 1 - Black and White Dots Footed Platter

Leili Towfiq, an artist in Boston, MA, transcends geographic boundaries with her handmade studio ceramics and art jewelry that draws on the richness and diversity of “color, science, art, math, music, architecture, nature, design, patterns, typography, textures, learning, beauty, soul ….”  As a “citizen of the world” she finds and shares joy in “learning, reflecting and interacting.”

These artists each make a unique contribution to conflict prevention by demonstrating the beauty, unity as well as diversity of the human family.