India and China’s Special Representatives (SRs) on the boundary issue are scheduled to meet in Delhi on Friday for their 20th round of talks.
India’s Special Representative is national security advisor Ajit Doval. His Chinese counterpart is Yang Jiechi, one that country’s top diplomats.
Friday’s meeting will be the first of its kind since the 72-day Doklam standoff earlier this year. The most recent meeting was held in April 2016.
The SR dialogue, which began in 2003, is an avenue for discussing boundary disputes but also serves as a conduit for high-level communication between the two countries.
The Doklam standoff and its aftermath will certainly feature in the talks between Doval and Yang. China continues to station troops in the area and may be building roads not far from the site of the dispute.
At the height of the Doklam crisis in July, Doval and Yang met in Beijing and subsequently held phone conversations that reportedly helped resolve the standoff.
The two sides might ‘suggest some new confidence building measures aimed at stabilizing their un-demarcated border,’ Mint reported.
Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Mint Doval and Yang could also discuss the quadrilateral dialogue India is engaged in with the US, Japan, and Australia.
The dialogue between the SRs comes less than two weeks after China’s foreign minister Wang Yi met his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj during the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral meeting in Delhi on 11 December. The two discussed Doklam, but an official statement from the Chinese foreign ministry later said the talks were ‘unsatisfactory’.
While Swaraj and Wang failed to make headway, Wang had sounded more upbeat in a wide-ranging speech he gave in Beijing a little earlier on China’s foreign relations.
‘China and India have far greater shared strategic interests than differences, and far greater needs for cooperation than partial friction,’ Wang said.
Referring to the Doklam standoff, he said India’s ‘cross-border incursions’ had been resolved diplomatically ‘which reflected the value and importance of China-India relations and demonstrated sincerity and responsibility of maintaining regional peace and stability’.