n December 21, 2019, the 22nd Meeting of Special Representatives on the China-India Border Issue was held in New Delhi, India. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, as the Chinese representative, co-chaired the meeting with Indian representative and national security advisor Ajit Doval.
The meeting faced a host of opportunities and challenges, Lin Minwang, professor at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, wrote for Shanghai-based news portal The Paper.
Dai Bingguo served as the Chinese representative at the meetings from 2003 to 2015. During that time, four Indian officials served as his counterparts. This was a major factor affecting negotiations on the Sino-Indian border issue, Lin said. Starting from the 18th meeting in 2015, Modi’s national security advisor Ajit Dowar has served as the Indian representative.
In May 2019, Modi was re-elected Prime Minister of India. A strong leader with a five-year term, Modi was poised to provide stability to Sino-Indian relations that would overcome obstacles to their ties, Lin said.
However, challenges ensued, Lin said. In early August 2019, India readjusted its administrative divisions, bringing China’s territory under its administrative jurisdiction. This drew an immediate protest from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who deemed the practice as “unacceptable and devoid of effect.”
The stalemate remained until their two leaders met in Chennai, India, in October, when they instructed the special representatives to reach a mutually agreed framework based on the guiding principles agreed upon in 2005.
While India expressed a desire to negotiate, it has seemed “indifferent and lukewarm” in actual negotiations, Lin wrote. Indian Foreign Ministry’s press release omitted the new ideas that China proposed at the 21st and 22nd meetings.
The reason could be that many Indians thought that negotiations on border issues already concluded in 2005 with the Agreement on Political Guiding Principles for Solving the Sino-Indian Border Issue, Lin pointed out. However, this is just India's perception, not a bilateral concensus.
It is necessary to show sincerity and look at the border issue from a strategic perspective, Lin concluded.