Mr. Yang’s visit to India was confirmed by The Hindu last month, though both sides were earlier looking at the possibility of holding talks towards the end of February. The dialogue between the two Special Representatives is expected to take place early next week.
Highly placed sources said that though it was Mr. Doval’s turn to arrive in Beijing for talks on the boundary issue, the Chinese side was inclined to send Mr. Yang to New Delhi. The Chinese wanted to reciprocate New Delhi’s special gesture conveyed through Mr. Doval’s arrival in Beijing ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last September, the sources said.
The 17th round of talks on the frontiers was held in New Delhi last year between Mr. Yang and Mr. Doval’s predecessor, Shivshankar Menon. Despite China’s strong protest, Mr. Modi’s recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, has not stalled the momentum of growing ties between New Delhi and Beijing, following President Xi’s visit, the sources said.
Yet the Chinese have conveyed that though the situation on the borders is being successfully managed, the resolution of the boundary question is a time-consuming exercise. Analysts say that the recent changes in personnel brought about by the President Xi in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as part of spiralling anti-corruption campaign may have a positive spinoff impact on keeping the borders calm.
The Chinese perception of a two-speed relationship, where rapid development of the economic relationship would coexist with incremental progress on the boundary issue, was evident during Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent media conference. Speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) — China’s parliament — Mr. Wang said, “At the moment the boundary negotiations are in the process of building up small, positive steps.”
He added: “It is like climbing a mountain. The going is tough, that is only because we are on the way up.” With an early breakthrough not in sight, Mr. Wang advocated overall development of the China-India ties, as this would impart a positive momentum to the resolution of the border row. “This is one more reason why we should do more to strengthen China-India cooperation so that we can enable and facilitate the settlement of the diplomatic question.”
Regarding talks, both sides are in the middle of a three-stage process of defining a framework for resolving their differences in the western, middle and eastern sectors. Armed with an agreement in 2005 on the guiding principles, it is envisaged that the talks will culminate in the delineation of the border on the ground and maps.
While the preparations for Mr. Modi’s visit have commenced in earnest, both sides are trying to focus on a few areas, including railways, where solid progress is possible, rather than have a thin spread of too many items on the agenda.
- Published in World