An agreement to put in place more confidence building measures to keep peace on the Line of Actual Control is all set to be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to China that began on Tuesday.
But India has put on hold a keenly awaited visa liberalisation agreement, after China recently issued stapled visas to two people from Arunachal Pradesh.
As Prime Minister Singh arrived in the Chinese capital from Moscow, officials were at pains to emphasise that the relationship with China “cannot been seen in black and white” because of its exceeding complexity. On arrival, Dr. Singh stressed the civilisational ties between the two countries and “there were lots of things to discuss.”
The Indian view is that between the two fastest growing countries in the world, that are engaged bilaterally and at multiple other levels on global political, economic and security issues, there is enormous potential for realising shared interests despite the differences.
Seeking to pitch over what officials described as “media hype” on Chinese intrusions, the Indian establishment is eager to convey to domestic audiences that the LAC is “our most peaceful border [where] not a shot has been fired since 1975.”
“It’s not a hot border,” a senior official said, pointing out though that there was a need to “keep working at it, because as each of us develops new capabilities, and as we build more infrastructure on the borders, naturally it is important to find a new equilibrium at each stage.”
The Border Defence Co-operation Agreement, first suggested by the Chinese side in 2012, and for which negotiations began in March this year, comprises a new set of confidence-building measures for border management. According to officials, this will provide an additional mechanism that builds on the 1993 Peace and Tranquility Agreement. It is expected to be signed on Wednesday.
Officials said face-offs at the LAC could never be ruled out as long as the boundary issue remained unresolved, but what was key was the ability to manage them. The Depsang incident saw the status quo being restored within three weeks compared to a six-year face off in 1986-93, officials pointed out, because there was a mechanism in place to do so.