India and China link Home Ministries to counter terror

India has already backed the concept of a united counter-terror front, of which China and Russia have been the chief advocates.

Updated - December 04, 2021 10:57 pm IST

Published - November 19, 2015 03:12 pm IST - Beijing

India and China have decided to establish a ministerial mechanism that would, for the first time, link the two home ministries, filling a vital gap in the overall institutional architecture of the bilateral ties.

The decision was taken following Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s talks with Guo Sheng Kun, China’s Public Security Minister, who is also the State Councillor in the Communist Party of China (CPC). Mr. Singh also called upon Prime Minister Li Keqiang, and both leaders agreed that there was a need to “upgrade” the security collaboration between New Delhi and Beijing to the next level.

The two sides also discussed counter-terror collaboration at length, in the backdrop of the Paris attacks, and other events, including the killing of a Chinese hostage in Syria by the Islamic State.

Briefing the resident Indian media, in the presence of Mr. Singh, India’s Ambassador to China Ashok Kantha said a decision was taken on “an exchange of information on terrorist activities, terrorist groups and linkages” — widely seen as an agreement on “intelligence sharing” by the security authorities of the two countries. Communication lines between the two establishments would also be opened to ensure information flows on aircraft hijacking and hostage situations. “We will [also] coordinate our positions in regional and multilateral forums.”

Mr. Kantha later told The Hindu that both sides “agreed that the terrorism had now to be combated at the international level, and both sides would be working in that direction.”

At the media conference, he pointed out that a two-tier structure has been established to steer ties between the Home Ministry and the Ministry of Public Security of China.

The two ministers — Mr. Singh and Mr. Guo — will head this mechanism. They will be assisted by a “working-level group”, led by a Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Home Affairs, and an officer of the rank of Director General from the Ministry of Public Security.

The new mechanism will provide an institutional platform that will cover all issues that impact on the “internal security” of the two countries. The topics include law enforcement, cyber crimes, terrorism, trans-border crimes and drug trafficking. The first ministerial meeting of this forum is expected in the first half of 2016, when the State Councillor Guo is expected to visit New Delhi at the invitation of Mr. Singh.

Mr. Singh’s talks on Thursday also yielded consensus on a “framework agreement” as the basis for upgrading security ties.

“We have agreed to work towards a new bilateral agreement which will provide contours of cooperation in counter-terrorism, security, and related trans-border crimes,” Mr. Kantha said.

The tempo on counter-terrorism between the two countries has been growing since the Paris attacks, as the high-level interaction between India and China gets its second wind. At a meeting in New Delhi on Monday between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and China’s Vice-Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, Fan Changlong, the two sides called “for cooperation in fighting terrorism,” China Military Online, a website run by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reported, citing the Paris attacks.

In a posting on Sina Wiebo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter that has a wide public following in China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed to his meeting with Gen. Fan which, he said, included a “wide-ranging discussions on India-China ties”. Gen. Fan’s stay followed a visit to India by Chinese Vice- President Li Yuanchao, which concluded earlier this month.

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