New Delhi: The year 2012, which marks the 30 years of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s path-breaking visit to China, saw the two giant neighbours in Asia at an advanced stage of settling the vexed boundary issue, having reached a point at which the two sides were to decide the specifics of give and take.
Though there might be some gap between the last meeting of Special Representatives designated for the talks, the 15th round of which happened last months, and the next meeting, the issue would, however, be discussed when Dai Bingguo, the Chinese counterpart of India’s Special representatives Shivshankar Menon comes here next month for a meeting of National Security Advisers of the BRICS countries.
The talks are at a point that the settlement might happen “in a flash”, as sources put it, or it may take some more years, given the complexity of the issue.
Bingguo is laying down office in March, and his replacement is now to be appointed under the new regime of Xi Jiping who takes over from Hu Jintao as head of the Communist Party, so the process might take some time as the new head would take some time to settle.
During the BRICS NSAs meet, there would be bilateral with each of them, and the meeting between Menon and Bingguo would focus on a host of issues between the two countries ranging from bilateral trade to cooperation on the international financial institutions and at political fora, but boundary issue was naturally expected to come up for discussion.
According to sources, the next meeting or the 16th round of talks under the Special Representatives mechanism would not be possible before June or July at a rough estimate, but by all indications the new regime would continue the existing policies and the processes.
Xi Jiping has on the new Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s top decision-making body, Li Keqiang, who is expected to replace Wen Jiabao as premier early next year, and five other veteran party officials.
The process of dialogue at the Special Representative level to resolve the border dispute which involves thousands of km in the eastern and western sector was started during the Prime Minister ship of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003. It was continued by the Manmohan Singh Government.
In fact, the process to normalise relations with China was initiated by Rajiv Gandhi in December 1988, when he paid official visit to China, the first visit to that country by an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years.
There are three stages in the border talks — first is agreement on principles, the second is agreement on framework and the third is implementation.