Asia's giants resume quest for better ties

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 December, 2011, 12:00am


Related topics

A fourth round of Sino-Indian defence and security consultations will be held today in New Delhi, and analysts hope it will help reopen delayed border talks and lessen the long-held mistrust between the two countries.

General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army's general staff, will lead a delegation to New Delhi for the talks with Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and ministry officials, according to a report released by the Chinese Defence Ministry. The last such talks were held in January of last year in Beijing.

Sun Shihai, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said today's meeting would help restart Sino-Indian border talks, which were supposed to have resumed on November 28. Those talks were abruptly postponed on November 25 because the dates clashed with the Global Buddhist Conference in New Delhi, The Hindu newspaper quoted an unnamed Chinese diplomatic official as saying.

'The border dispute and India's political stance of supporting the Dalai Lama are still the key obstacles in Sino-Indian ties,' Sun said. 'But fortunately, both Beijing and New Delhi are keen on strengthening mutual trust, even though they realise that they are also competitors in economic and security issues.'

India and China, which together comprise more than a third of the world's population, had a brief border conflict in the remote Himalayan region in 1962. The contested area spans nearly 90,000 square kilometres that China calls Southern Tibet and which India administers under the name Arunachal Pradesh.

Sun also said India's involvement in South China Sea oil exploration had complicated the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region, which he said would likely be one of the important issues at today's meeting.

In October, India's state-run explorer, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, signed a three-year deal with to co-operate in the South China Sea, where China has territorial claims with many neighbours in Southeast Asia.

D.S. Rajan, director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies, said Beijing and New Delhi's own geo-political perceptions had hinted at the positive development of ties. The meeting would help both parties build trust on the border issues.

'A real improvement in bilateral ties is, however, far off, as key issues such as the border, the Dalai Lama, the China-Pakistan nexus, India's role in the South China Sea and New Delhi-Washington ties are likely to persist for a long time,' he said. 'The India-China trust deficit is not going to disappear soon.'

Professor Fu Xiaoqiang, of the government think tank the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Beijing and New Delhi need to come up with new strategies to solve their disputes.

'It's impossible to solve the problems with just a meeting, but both sides need to work together for a long while,' Fu said.

'For India's part, I hope they do not stir up the so-called China threat any more, as it would only harm their ties with us.'