National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon will visit Beijing in June end to hold the 16th round of Special Representative (SR) talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and seek a clarification on the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Menon’s visit will be followed by defence minister AK Antony’s visit to China in the first week of July.
Top government sources said during his two-day visit, Menon will discuss critical issues such as LAC clarification, trade imbalance and a joint mechanism on trans-border rivers originating in Tibet like the Brahmaputra.
The two SRs were mandated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to suggest steps to make peace and tranquility permanent on the borders during the latter’s visit to India in May.
While India and China exchanged maps on their respective positions in the middle sector (Uttarakhand) in March 2000, the western sector (Ladakh) maps were shown but never exchanged on June 17, 2002 due to maximalist territorial positions claimed by both sides.
Comparison of Indian and Chinese maps showed 12 areas of differences in LAC perception. The differences were found in: Samar Lungpa; Trig Heights and Depsang; Kong Ka La, Pangong Tso, Spanggur Gap; Mount Sajum; Dumchele; Demchok and Chumar. Maps of the eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh) were neither shown nor exchanged.
During the SR dialogue, Menon is expected to highlight how both the nations can avoid a Depsang like situation in future. However, China may not be interested in map exchange as both sides have maintained that LAC cannot be the border.
Besides the boundary dispute, Menon will raise the need to have an institutionalised joint mechanism for trans-border rivers to study water flows particularly after China has started building four dams on the Brahmaputra River in Tibet. The need for such a mechanism was voiced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the BRICS summit in Durban last March.
Menon may also discuss trade imbalance between the two countries with India mounting a huge deficit. He may stress on the need to open its markets to Indian goods.
In 2001, China had identified 22 products as possible Indian exports, though it has allowed only two items for export.