All eyes on Beijing visit by India's security adviser

BEIJING • India's national security adviser Ajit Doval is in China to attend a meeting of top security officials from the so-called BRICS countries that began yesterday, during which he is expected to hold talks with Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi on the ongoing stand-off at their common border.

Indian media reported yesterday that Mr Doval is to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping today with his counterparts from the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Both Chinese and Indian officials here were tight-lipped about Mr Doval's schedule, said the reports.

The security meeting in Beijing is to discuss issues such as counter-terrorism and cyber security in the run-up to the group's summit to be held in China's Xiamen city in September, reported Hindustan Times newspaper.

But Mr Doval's meetings with the Chinese officials are being closely followed for clues as to how the two Asian giants might resolve the stand-off on the Himalayan Doklam Plateau, or decide on moves to reduce tensions over the matter.

China and India share a 3,500km border, large parts of which are disputed. The remote plateau is claimed by China and Bhutan.

So far, neither Beijing nor New Delhi, which is supporting Bhutan's claim to Doklam, has shown any sign of backing down. India wants a return to the earlier positions, while China has demanded that India pull back its troops.

The dispute at the plateau began in the middle of last month when Chinese soldiers started to extend a road through the Doklam territory - known as "Donglang" in Chinese.

Bhutan's ally India then deployed troops to stop the construction project, prompting Beijing to accuse India of trespassing on Chinese soil.

China warned this week that it would step up its deployment.

"The solution to this issue is simple, which is that the Indian troops back out honestly," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this week, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.

India's vice-chief of army staff Sarath Chand said on Tuesday: "China is expanding its influence across the Himalayas into our neighbourhood despite being an economy five times the size (of India), with such a large standing army... it is bound to be a threat for us in the years ahead."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'All eyes on Beijing visit by India's security adviser'. Print Edition | Subscribe