After a period of strain and drift in the relations with its Eastern neighbour, India is preparing for a new round of engagement with China with several high profile interactions lined up in the coming week.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval are heading to Beijing next week, while External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj will meet her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral in Moscow on Monday.
The visits come in the backdrop of the just concluded visit of U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter during which India and the U.S. agreed “in principle” on a modified Logistics Support Agreement, addressing Indian concerns, in addition to a series of new initiatives on the maritime front.
China had reacted cautiously to the visit. Responding to questions Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that China has “noted relevant reports on U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter’s visit to India.”
“India is also an influential country in the world, and India has been upholding independent diplomatic policy. India will make up its diplomatic policies based on its own interests,” Ms. Lu added.
There is considerable heartburn in India over China’s move to block its bid to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar as terrorist by the United Nations (U.N.), following the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase in January.
Mr. Doval and Ms. Swaraj will separately raise the issue of Masood Azhar and apprise the Chinese side of India’s efforts to contain cross-border terrorism.
Ms. Swaraj will be attending the 14th meeting of the Foreign Ministers of RIC being hosted by Russia where terrorism will figure in the talks. In the last meeting of RIC held in China in February 2015 the three ministers reiterated that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” is a threat to international peace and reaffirmed the need to combat it collectively under the auspices of the U.N.
Mr. Doval is expected to present “strong evidence” to the Chinese to convince them to designate Masood Azhar as a terrorist before the U.N committee.
His visit scheduled earlier in January was cancelled in the wake of the Pathankot terror attack.Peace on the border
Maintaining peace and tranquillity on the 4,000-km-long border is expected to figure prominently in Mr. Parrikar’s meetings in China.
Pending the resolution of the boundary issue, the two sides during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China last year committed themselves to enhance border defence cooperation and agreed on a series of confidence building measures including greater interaction between the militaries, endeavour to operationalise the military hotline and establish new border personnel meeting points in all sectors on the border.