|Indian PM Singh (L) and Chinese PM Wen in 2008|
Thursday, 14 April 2011
China and India agree to restore defence ties, despite border dispute
India and China have agreed to restore defence ties after meetings between Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao on Monday 11th April.
Defence ties were suspended last year after China refused a visa to a Kashmir-based general. In July 2010, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal was prevented from joining a delegation to Beijing because he served in Jammu and Kashmir.
China and India have a number of long running border disputes, but both sides agreed to work together to resolve tensions along their 3,500km long shared border.
Two areas are disputed. Aksai Chin is administered by China as part of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, however India claims it as part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Arunachal Pradesh, a state in the far northeast of India is also disputed, and China claims that it is a part of South Tibet.
The two sides fought a brief border war in 1962, and several rounds of talks over the border in the past few years have made little real progress. India remains suspicious of China's ties to Pakistan, and both sides seem largely unwilling to compromise on territorial questions. Despite this, ties have been relatively strong in recent years, and China is now India's largest trading partner.
Speaking on Wednesday 14th April, India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon said the two sides would set up a consultation mechanism for the border dispute.
"This will handle important border affairs relating to maintaining peace and tranquility," Menon said, though he added that "in practice it is one of the most peaceful borders that we have."
Menon said that a multi-command Indian Army delegation would visit China later in the year, likely in June, and suggested joint exercises could be held at some point in the future.
The two countries have also agreed to boost economic ties, and address the currently assymetrical trade relationship. Menon said of Singh, "The PM spoke of taking our relationship to a higher level, focusing more on cross-investment, and also spoke of China providing better market access for Indian exports, particularly in IT, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products and in the engineering sectors."
Singh is in China as part of a formal summit of the “BRICS” countries, which along with China and India includes Brazil, Russia and South Africa. The summit is being held in Sanya, southern China on 14th April.
Sources: BBC News, Xinhua, Economic Times, International Business Times
For more information, please see the Menas Borders website, here.