India, China likely to suggest new steps to boost border peace

By Elizabeth Roche

India and China are likely to hold talks between their special representatives Ajit Doval and Yang Jiechi around 20-22 December to find a solution to their border dispute

New Delhi: India and China may suggest some new confidence building measures aimed at stabilizing their un-demarcated border and maintaining peace during the 20th round of talks expected this week between their special representatives (SRs) mandated to finding a solution to the decades-old border dispute.

Given that this will be the first dialogue between the two SRs—Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo member Yang Jiechi and India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval—after the 73-day military standoff in Bhutan’s Doklam plateau earlier this year, analysts say the two will discuss ways to prevent a repeat of the circumstances that triggered the crisis.

The foreign ministry is yet to announce the SR-level talks —the 20th since this dialogue was established in 2003—but speculation is rife that the talks will be hosted by New Delhi around 20-22 December.

The SR talks follow a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xiamen in September on the sidelines of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa summit, in which the two agreed to move forward from the Doklam face-off.

The SR dialogue also follows a visit to India by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to New Delhi last week for the Russia-India-China (RIC) foreign ministers’ meeting. Wang met his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj separately and Doklam figured in their talks. A Chinese foreign ministry statement last week said the results of efforts made by both countries to ensure overall momentum was “unsatisfactory.”

“The Dong Lang (Doklam) incident caused by the Indian border troops’ illegal crossing of the China-India boundary into the Chinese territory was a severe test for bilateral relations,” it said, giving the Chinese version that is contested by India. “The incident was ultimately settled by peaceful means through diplomatic measures, which embodies that China-India relations are becoming increasingly mature. However, lessons should be learned to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” it added.

India on its part said the Wang-Swaraj talks were extremely cordial and the emphasis was on ensuring that differences did not become disputes and get out of hand.

Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi pointed out that after their talks in September, Modi and Xi said that “there should be more efforts made to really enhance and strengthen the level of mutual trust between the two sides.”

“So we could see some discussion on a new set of confidence building measures” on the border, Kondapalli said.

Doval and Jiechi are also likely to discuss India’s talks with Australia, the US and Japan—the “quadrilateral” dialogue—given that the SRs also talk regional and global security issues, Kondapalli said. Beijing has in the past expressed the hope that the quadrilateral talks would not be directed against it.

Source: Livemint

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