India and China are set to sign a border defence cooperation agreement (BDCA) when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Beijing next week. While a senior government source said “we’re still working on it,” other sources said the agreement had already received cabinet clearance and was more or less a done deal.
The agreement would rejuvenate the stalled three-step border settlement process that the two countries had agreed to in 2005. This agreement is part of the second step: working out a framework for a final border settlement.
The BDCA was given impetus after the Depsang intrusion which broke “the pattern” of previous Chinese activity on the border. The agreement, among other things, will introduce a higher level of military meetings on the border to make the Chinese army “directly involved in this process.”
The government source noted that the Sino-Indian border remains violence-free, with no deaths or shooting for several years. “Intrusions are down this year, compared to last year,” the source said. China, he said, had been sending many signals that it wanted a “stable, steady and mature relationship.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping would host the Indian prime minister at a meal, something that has not been done since at least the 1950s.
The two would also hold a general conversation about economic issues, including addressing India’s concerns about a nearly $29 billion trade imbalance and China’s suggestions for a non-dollar “currency arrangement”. The source said there would be “no visa agreement” on this trip.