According to newly published map in China, the border between Xinjiang AR and the Central Asian Stans have been quietly changed, reflecting results of recent negotiation to settle borders.
This is part of China's effort to "peaceful development", i.e., to make sure China can steer away from the distraction of border dispute or conflict and focus on economic development.
If the negotiation with India goes well as expected, China would be able settle all land border disputes with its neighbors. This would serve to prove that China has no intention of aggression, today or in the future, and dispel the myth of "China threat". Because if China plans to be aggressive, it would rather save some of the disputed areas as future excuses. It would also be silly to settle them in such haste because as we see below, in almost every case, China conceded most the territories it has claimed.
FYJS's site has some anecdotes about how China dealt with the disputes in thw 1960s and 1980s. Most of the disputed terriroties were under Soviet control. Soviet Army were a lot strong than China's. China did not want to escalate the conflicts.
However, the disputed areas were grazing zone for the nomads who lives on Chinese side (nomads migrates to where the grass is greener over the seasons), which is one of the main evidence for China's claim. When USSR and China were friendly in the 1950s, the nomads can cross the border to graze with no problem. But the Soviet started to harrass the nomads since the 1960s, even though there was an agreement to allow them there in particular seasons.
So every year, China needs to encourage the nomads to drive their herds to the Soviet controlled side, to keep the territory claim valid. Many were discouraged by the Soviet harrassment and would prefer not to go for such trouble. So sometimes China send some soldiers to disguise as nomad, to help them with the jobs, and to survey the landscape. These were high danger jobs so each trip was taken with a lot of sweat. FYJS's site has some memoirs of the trips made by these soldiers/officers.
- This is the largest disputed area. It concerns mainly how to divide the Wuzhongtushi river source area: 2844 sq. km
- The lower (green, topographic) map is an enlargement of the area
- Red dots the new negotiated boundary, yellow dots the disputed area
- China claimed the boundary should be the Wuzhongtushi watershed, Russia claimed Tianshan South as the watershed
A related note: China and Vietnam settled the dispute on land border, border marks will be erected by 2008. Sea border in Tonkin Bay is also settled and the area will be patrol jointly by the 2 navies. Remaining dispute on South Sea Islands (Paracels and Spratly) will be set aside, the area will be jointly developed.