Ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to India, prominent Chinese scholars have voiced optimism that Chinese and Indian leadership will take a historic decision to make "meaningful readjustments" on the vexed boundary issue and enhance their evolving strategic ties.
"In my view, the task of the two sides is how to make meaningful readjustments which is acceptable to both sides," former Chinese Ambassador to India, Cheng Ruisheng said.
"It is high time for the leaders of both sides to take a historical decision to find out a compromise formula. I am still optimistic about the final settlement of the boundary question," Cheng said.
Describing Hu's November 20-23 state visit as a "climax" to the 'Year of India-China Friendship', Cheng said the visit by the Chinese President, first since 1996, was very important for both countries and both peoples and their evolving strategic partnership.
Chen pointed out that late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai had once said that China will take care of the sentiments for the Indians towards Himalayas and they in turn should take care of the Chinese sentiments for Karakoram. "In general, this has been accepted by both sides".
"Successive Chinese governments have never accepted officially the McMahon Line. It is difficult for the Chinese government to accept in totality the McMahon Line," he said.
"China has accumulated a lot of rich experience in settling boundary disputes with other countries," Cheng said, pointing out to boundary agreements that China reached with countries like Russia and Vietnam in recent years.
Professor Sun Shihai, Deputy Director of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a major Chinese government think-tank, also emphasised the need for both countries to be "sensitive" to the national sentiments of the other side.
"In the negotiations for the settlement of the boundary issue, both countries should be sensitive to the national sentiments of each side," Sun said.
Sun, who recently presided over the first-ever seminar on the 1962 India-China war, said in Beijing that Chinese scholars were of the view that both India and China should be willing to make 'adjustments' in the Eastern and Western sectors of the disputed boundary for the final settlement of the border dispute and step up their strategic relations.
"The McMahon Line, drawn by the British is illegal. Successive Chinese governments have not accepted it. There is no question of the current socialist government accepting it as well. But we can discuss and make adjustments," he said, stressing that Beijing had to justify any possible territorial adjustments with India to the Chinese people as well.
"The two countries are mature enough to deal with boundary issue. But key to the resolution of the boundary issue is mutual accommodation," he said.