NEW DELHI — Six months after resuming military exchanges, India and China have agreed on a mechanism for resolving their long-standing boundary dispute.
The two countries signed a pact to establish a “Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs.” The agreement, signed by India’s ambassador to China, S. Jaishankar, and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, was finalized here Jan. 17 at the conclusion of the 15th meeting of the Special Representatives on the boundary question between Indian National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo.
The working mechanism will “study ways and means to conduct and strengthen exchanges and cooperation between military personnel and establishments of the two sides in the border areas,” an Indian Foreign Ministry official said.
“The Working Mechanism will address issues and situations that may arise in the border areas that affect the maintenance of peace and tranquility and will work actively toward maintaining the friendly atmosphere between the two countries,” the agreement states.
Sources in the Indian Defence Ministry said the agreement will basically devise a mechanism to establish better military-to-military contacts, which will help ease tensions at the border. There have been dozens of reported incidents of Chinese troops crossing into Indian territory. The Indian Foreign Ministry has denied most of these reports, but analysts here say New Delhi is simply trying to calm rising emotions over the incidents.
The dispute between India and China involves the longest contested boundary in the world. China claims 92,000 square kilometers of territory that is also claimed by India.
The border is currently defined by a 4,056-kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is marked neither on the ground nor on mutually accepted maps. Efforts to establish an LAC recognized by both countries have made little headway since the mid-1980s.
Both China and India, which fought a brief war over the boundary dispute in 1962, have been building up their defense forces.