India and China on Saturday issued a rare joint statement on internal security, marking out new areas for cooperation in meeting counter-terrorism challenges, exchanging information on terror groups and streamlining channels of communication on security-related issues.
The brief statement – issued by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security of China – laid out the contours of cooperation under the broad theme of “combating international terrorism”.
It included: “…exchanging information on terrorist activities, terrorist groups and their linkages, exchanging experiences on anti-hijacking, hostage situations and other terrorism related crimes and coordinating positions on anti-terrorism endeavors at regional and multilateral levels and supporting each other”.
The statement was issued after a round of meetings that visiting Indian home minister Rajnath Singh had with senior Communist Party of China (CPC) officials responsible for China’s internal security.
Besides Premier Li Keqiang, Singh met Guo Shengkun, state councilor and minister for public security and Meng Jianzhu, the head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
The statement is a first in many ways including that it was possibly the first-ever joint statement to be issued at the home – or internal security -- ministry-level of the two countries.
It is also the first time an official mechanism is being put in place to ensure channels of communication between the internal security apparatus of both countries will be accessible to officials.
Officials explained that over the last several months the leadership of both countries had realised the need to upgrade bilateral cooperation in internal security-related matters.
One consensus that had emerged during high-level meetings that given the current momentum of relations there was a need to upgrade cooperation on security issues and shared concerns on terrorism.
There is also a thinking among Chinese strategic thinkers that both countries can cooperate on terror-related issues – despite New Delhi’s consistent stand on involvement of Pakistan in attacks in India.
The Global Times newspaper quoted Peking University’s Jiang Jingkui as saying that “…separatists in Xinjiang, bordering disputed Kashmir, are believed by the Indian government to have certain links with terrorists in Kashmir - a hotbed of terrorists that India has blamed for attacks.”
The issues of bilateral investments also came up during Singh’s discussions with the Chinese leaders and he was promised that China would give Indian businesses a level-playing field to operate here.
In turn, India seems to be also shrugging off, if in a calibrated way, its security concerns about certain types of Chinese firms which want to invest in India; in all, more than 20 Chinese companies across sectors have been given the go-ahead to invest in India.