- Indian Prime Minister Modi met Chinese President Xi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek and discussed the full spectrum of bilateral relations.
- Both the leaders also agreed to expedite the dialogue on the India-China boundary issue for securing a “fair” solution.
- The two leaders discussed the status of the bilateral relationship since the Wuhan summit of April 2018, which came in the backdrop of tensions following the Doklam standoff.
- PM Modi acknowledged China’s contribution to the listing of Pakistan-based terror mastermind Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations Security Council.
- China highlighted the need for regional cooperation and connectivity and singled out the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor as an example for expanding the India-China ties.
- Both leaders also discussed the plans for celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties.
India – China Boundary Dispute
- India and China have a total boundary of boundary of around 4,050 km.
- The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh share their borders with China.
- However, the border between India and China is not clearly demarcated throughout and there is no mutually agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- The India-China border is divided into three sectors, i.e. Western, Middle and Eastern.
Western sector i.e. Aksai Chin Sector
- The two sides differ over the boundary line that separates Jammu and Kashmir from Xingjiang province of China.
- India accuses China of illegally occupying Aksai Chin, and some other parts of Ladakh region.
- According to China, Aksai Chin is the extention of Tibet plateau whereas India claims it as an extention of Ladakh plateau.
- The region is mostly uninhabited.
Significance for China:
- Aksai chin is important for China as it connects two backward provinces of China i.e. Tibet and Xinjiang.
- It is the least controversial of the three sectors.
- Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand abet the boundary. Both sides do not have much disagreement over this area.
- It is the only one where India and China have exchanged maps on which they broadly agree.
- It is contentious, and is historically referred to as MacMohan Line.
- The McMahon Line is the demarcation line between the Tibetan region of China and the North-east region of India proposed by British colonial administrator Henry McMahon at the 1914 Simla Convention signed between British and Tibetan representatives.
- The McMahon Line is regarded by India as the legal national border, but China rejects the Simla Accord and the McMahon Line, contending that Tibet was not a sovereign state and therefore did not have the power to conclude treaties.
- China claims whole of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory.
- They see Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet. Sometimes, they claim entire Arunachal Pradesh and at times just Tawang part of Arunachal.
Note: Nearly six decades have passed since then, but the border issue remains unresolved. It has turned into one of the most protracted border disputes in the world.
Initiatives to resolve border issues:
- Shimla agreement of 1914:
- Through this agreement, MacMohan Line was recognised as the legal boundary between India and China.
- However, China rejects the Shimla agreement and the Mcmahon line, contending that Tibet was not a sovereign state and therefore did not have the power to conclude treaties.
- Panchsheel Agreement of 1954:
- The “Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India” was signed in 1954. It is remembered as the Panchsheel Agreement.
- The doctrine indicated the willingness to ‘Respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’.
- Confidence Building Measures (CBMs)
- The two countries are also engaged in Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) on the border with bilateral agreements signed in 1993, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2013.
- In 2003, the two sides agreed on the appointment of Special Representatives (SRs) for consultations aimed at arriving at a framework for a boundary settlement that would provide the basis for the delineation and demarcation of the border.
- By the beginning of the 21st century, the two sides had agreed not to let the border dispute affect bilateral engagements. This was inked into the Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question signed in 2005.
- In 2012, India and China agreed on the establishment of a working mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India China borders.
- In November 2018, China and India held border talks at. The talks were aimed to achieve an early solution to the dispute and to maintain peace and tranquillity at the borders,