By Aarti Tikoo Singh
New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) India and China will have their 22nd round of special representative talks on border issues here on Saturday. But neither New Delhi nor Beijing expects to push each other on the long-pending ‘boundary question’.
Though the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing on Friday said that India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will discuss delimitation of border and boundary management, top officials in New Delhi said the dialogue would focus on broader international issues.
The high level dialogue between special representatives of the two countries began in 2003.
“This is going to be the 22nd round. We shouldn’t expect any resolution of the boundary question in the special representative talks on Saturday. It is a long process with a long history and the issues will get resolved in time,” a senior official in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) told IANS.
“The world’s two largest economies and militaries believe that both can coexist and have their own respective spheres of influence and power. Neither country wants to flare up any tension because both are powerful and aspirational. Both remain focused on their respective growth. As a result, both have been holding discussions on border issues without letting them affect the overall relationship for the last three decades,” an official in the MEA told IANS.
China occupies Aksai Chin, around 37,000 sq km uninhabited high-altitude desert in Jammu & Kashmir bordering China’s Xinjiang province. China also contests Indian sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, a hill state in the northeast bordering Tibet. With an area of around 84,000 sq km, Arunachal has a population of around 1.5 million people.
India’s boundaries, including the princely states which acceded to the country, were defined by the British before Independence. However, China occupied Aksai Chin and disputed the boundary of Arunachal Pradesh in the 1962 war with India.
Except for the 1962 war in which India was defeated, the two countries have remained largely peaceful. Tensions have erupted only occasionally over the disagreement between the two armies over their jurisdiction along the Lines of Actual Control (LAC).
To avoid escalation of conflict over the jurisdiction, India and China have a border defence cooperation agreement to sort out such issues. Both the countries have agreed to not build permanent structures in the areas along the LAC.