India-China boundary talks in New Delhi next week

India-China boundary talks in New Delhi next week

Parleys resume despite strain, dialogue at critical stage

Despite recent strains in bilateral ties, India and China are set to hold talks on boundary disputes next week and try to firm up an additional arrangement for consultation on border affairs.

The two countries’ Special Representatives (SR) – India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and China’s State Councillor Dai Bingguo – will hold the 15th round of talks on the protracted boundary dispute in New Delhi on Monday and Tuesday.

The Special Representatives were scheduled to meet on November 28 and 29 last, but the talks had to be postponed as Beijing was concerned over Tibetan leader Dalai Lama’s
presence in Delhi at a time when Dai would be in the Indian capital for parleys with Menon.

India had rejected China’s demand for preventing Dalai Lama from attending the Global Buddhist Congregation, which had also been held in New Delhi in the last week of November.

The Special Representatives of the two countries will on Monday and Tuesday try to firm up the proposed “Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs” – an additional arrangement involving senior diplomats of both the countries to urgently deal with any evolving situation along the Line of Actual Control.

Joint Secretary (External Publicity) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, said that Menon and Dai would hold parleys “on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest”, in addition to discussing the boundary issues.

Final package

New Delhi and Beijing have been holding SR-level talks on boundary issues since 2003. The first five rounds of parleys resulted in the signing of an agreement on the political parameters and guiding principles for the settlement of the dispute.

The parleys are now in the most critical stage with the SRs exploring the framework for a final package settlement covering all sectors of the boundary.

Menon recently said that the unresolved boundary question between India and China was “a difficult issue”. “However,” he added, “a number of mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that the border stays peaceful while we seek a settlement of the boundary question.

On the settlement itself, we are in the second stage of the three stage process of agreeing principles, a framework and finally a boundary line.”

New Delhi alleges that Beijing is illegally occupying approximately 38,000 sq km of Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir.

In addition, Islamabad ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to China in 1963.

China claims

China illegally claims approximately 90,000 square kilometers of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and about 2,000 sq km in the middle sector of the boundary between the two nations.