India has built mechanisms to keep the border with China peaceful and hard negotiations are required to settle the boundary issue between the two neighbours, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said in New Delhi on Saturday.
“We have built mechanisms to keep peace on the border. On the settlement of the boundary issue, we are trying various ways. It needs hard negotiations,” Menon, who is also the country’s special representatives for the India-China boundary talks, said.
“We had decided to separate the boundary issue with bilateral relations between India and China,” Menon pointed out.
He was taking part in a panel discussion on “India-China Ties: 25 Years After Deng-Rajiv Talks” organised by the Nehru Memorial Library and Centre for Policy Research.
Terming former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in 1988 as historic, Menon said “it was a brave and realistic decision.” He also called for making the ties mass-based, promoting people to people ties.
Former Indian ambassador to the US and Russia, Ronen Sen recounted that “Rajiv Gandhi was determined to go to Beijing despite opposition from within the Congress party.”
“The Congress had over 400 MPs in Lok Sabha, so there was little opposition to the move outside. But there was opposition within the Congress,” he recalled.
The former envoy said Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to visit Beijing was “not a hasty one and a lot of preparations, in terms of back channel discussions,” had gone into it. Sen said peace on the India-China border is of paramount importance.
“There was an unparalleled preparation behind the visit. The opening up was the result of a long drawn out policy,” rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who chaired the discussion, said. Ramesh, said there is a “political continuity” in India’s foreign policy on China.
The NDA government 1998-2004, under former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, took the ties forward as well.
Former bureaucrat CR Gharekhan, who worked with late prime minister Indira Gandhi, said the “process of normalising relations with China had begun during her rule.”