DHARAMSHALA, January 8: The new year’s first Sino-India bilateral discussion are scheduled this week with the upcoming visit of China’s sate councillor Dai Bingguo to New Delhi, who is heading a delegation to the two-day BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) top security officials' meeting beginning January 10.
According to reports, Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Dai, who is also China's Chief negotiator will discuss bilateral issues, the boundary dispute as well as new initiatives to invigourate bilateral ties following the leadership change in China.
The meeting takes place just over a month after Menon and Dai held “crucial informal boundary talks” in Beijing during which they reached "common understanding" on the negotiations over framework for a boundary settlement.
Although details of the “understanding” have not been revealed, it reportedly refers to numerous contentious issues relating to the border between India and Tibet occupied by China. The two countries have held 15 rounds of talks over the boundary dispute, which India says covers 3488 km while China insists that it is confined to 2000 km area in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh which it refers to as Southern Tibet.
Dai, who is the longest serving negotiator of China, has held talks with Menon's predecessors including Brajesh Mishra, J N Dixit and M K Narayanan. This visit is considered significant as it could be his last visit to India as Special Representative and State Counsellor before his retirement in March.
The 15th round of border talks, which was initially scheduled in November 2011 had to be cancelled after China demanded India scrap an international religious gathering in New Delhi, the venue of the talks, where the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama was to give a valedictory speech. The talks had to be rescheduled in January last year.
Following Dai's visit, India’s defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma will travel to Beijing for the annual defence dialogue on January 14-15. Sharma is expected to try and boost defence relations and open up the possibility of a joint exercise later this year.
In October last, Indian Defence Minister A K Antony had told reporters that negotiations over the long-standing boundary disputes were in the “final stages.”
Exile Tibetan groups have called the border talks “illegal and insensitive,” noting that until China’s invasion of Tibet in 1949, India shared its northern borders with Tibet, not China.
Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest pro-independence group in exile, has maintained that territorial talks between India and China are “inextricably linked to the issue of Tibet” and that China has “no right to re-write Tibet’s history.”