Chinese and Indian security officials meet amid border stand-off

A Chinese soldier next to an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China on July 10, 2008.
A Chinese soldier next to an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China on July 10, 2008. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Top Chinese and Indian officials met in Beijing amid a tense border stand-off in the Himalayas and an increasingly protracted diplomatic impasse.

The Thursday (July 27) meeting between Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval was the first high-level meeting since the weeks-long dispute began in a contested mountainous border area near Bhutan.

It was part of a meeting of top security advisers for the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

"At present, there are deep and complex changes in the international situation," Mr Yang said at a separate group meeting on Friday (July 28). "There is an increase in uncertainty and instability."

Mr Yang held separate meetings with BRICS national security advisers including Mr Doval, in which they exchanged views on "bilateral ties, international and regional hotspot issues".

 

Mr Yang also expounded China's principled stance on important matters, according to the statement posted on China's foreign ministry's website. 

The meeting comes as the two Asian powers jostle for broader geopolitical influence in South Asia.

New Delhi is wary of Chinese investments in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while Beijing is irked by India's lack of support for its global Belt and Road Initiative. 

"Mr Doval's official purpose is attending the BRICS meetings, but the border dispute will be high up on the agenda because that's the biggest elephant in the room," said Mr Du Youkang, a former Chinese diplomat based in India and Pakistan, who is now director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at Shanghai's Fudan University.

"The visit will present the first good and genuine opportunity for both sides to sit down and discuss where we go from here."

India and China have several contested borders and minor incursions happen from time to time. But this stand-off is the most serious in decades.

The dispute is near a sensitive narrow corridor that connects India to its north-east and involves a third country.

The dispute is at a three-way junction among Bhutan, China's Tibet and India's Sikkim.

Bhutan accused a Chinese road-building party of crossing into its territory on June 16. India said its troops approached the Chinese party and urged them to "desist from changing the status quo". China accused Indian troops of illegally trespassing into Chinese territory and said India must withdraw troops before any formal negotiations.