Our correspondent in India Yuan Zhen, reporter Li Ruo Han
It has been more than two months since China and India ended the Doklam confrontation. The Indian media have been speculating all along when the next round of meeting between the Special Representatives of the two sides will take place. The Economic Times reported on the 9th that India is preparing for a dialogue with the Chinese Special Representative on the Sino-Indian border issue in New Delhi. The newspaper observed this shows that India and China have begun moving forward after bilateral relations having dropped to a new low during the Doklam crisis.
On April 20 last year, the 19th meeting of the Special Representatives of China and India was held in Beijing. Chinese Special Representative and State Councilor, Yang Jiechi, exchanged views on the border issue and on bilateral relations with Doval, the Indian Special Representative and National Security Adviser. Qian Feng, a researcher at the Institute of National Strategy of Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on the 9th that this meeting was the highest-level platform for dialogue between the two countries on the boundary question. It is held once a year, alternately in both countries. Although no specific time has been set for holding the meeting, the frequency of previous talks shows that the meeting of this year is extremely delayed. This is precisely because of the Doklam confrontation.
According to the “Economic Times”, it is presumed that Yang, the State Councilor will still be the Chinese Special Representative at the 20th meeting of the Special Representative for the India-China Boundary Question. At the recent plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, he was elected a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. On the Indian side, the National Security Adviser, Doval is still there to lead the Indian team in the negotiations with the Chinese . According to reports, the meeting of Special Representatives on border issues plays a critical role in India-China relations. The latest round of talks may focus on measures to establish bilateral trust so as to prevent recurrence of similar confrontation. Indian experts believe that in addition to important global and bilateral strategic issues, the dialogue this time will discuss measures to prevent outbreak of disputes between the two countries over the boundary and trijunction with third countries.
In this regard, Qian Feng also predicts that the next Special Representatives’ meeting on the China-India boundary question will involve measures for managing differences on the boundary properly in case there is a crisis over boundary issues in the future, in order to avoid prolonged confrontation or escalation of tensions. He told the “Global Times” reporter that although not a single shot has been fired across the border for decades, the issue has remained unresolved and there has been no new progress since the two sides reached agreement on the principles for resolution of the problem. (Translator’s Note: Possibly a reference to the 2005 “Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question”.) The Doklam confrontation between the two sides (could/might have) trigger(ed) new reflections (thinking) in strategic policy decision-making on the boundary question in the two countries and this change might be reflected in this meeting. In addition, the dialogue may also touch upon how to make good use of the existing mechanisms and platforms to ensure steady development of bilateral relations and move these mechanisms forward to create innovative conditions for peaceful settlement of the boundary question.
Although the Indian and Chinese sides jointly demonstrated a positive attitude over (convening of) the new round of the Special representatives talks on border issues, India has not stopped its recent aggressiveness. A few days ago, India’s Defense Minister, Sitaraman, visited the Zangnan (Southern Tibet) area of China (called “Arunachal Pradesh” in India – Editor’s Note) that India has occupied illegally and inspected the combat readiness of the Indian border posts. In an interview with the “Global Times” reporter on the 9th, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Institute of international relations expert, Hu Zhiyong, reminded India that it had not restrained itself after the downturn of the Doklam incident. If at this meeting (too), India adopts an unyielding stance, it will not lead to any results.