India, China sign key pact to address border tensions, visa issue remains unsolved

India and China on Wednesday signed a border defence cooperation agreement besides agreeing to continue the momentum in the relationship by committing to continue high-level engagements between the two sides.

By Ajith Vijay Kumar | Updated: Oct 23, 2013, 23:42 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar

Beijing: India and China on Wednesday signed a border defence cooperation agreement and several other pacts to focus on growth and strengthening of relationship between the two sides. However, a deal on a liberalised visa regime could not be signed with India strongly opposing China`s stapled visa policy.

The agreement was signed by Defence Secretary RK Mathur and Lt. Gen. Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff, PLA, in presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Indo-China border pact: Important points

1. The two sides shall implement border defence cooperation in the following ways: 1. Exchange information-including information about military exercises, aircrafts, demolition operations and unmarked mines-and take consequent measures conducive to the maintenance of peace, stability and tranquility along the line of actual control in the India-China border areas.

2. Mechanisms to implement border deference cooperation: Flag meetings or border personnel meetings at designated places along the LAC, periodic meetings between officers of the relevant Military Regions of China and Army Commands of India and between departments responsible for military operations, periodic meetings between defence ministries, meetings of the working mechanism for consultation and coordination on border affairs and meetings of the India-China Annual Defence Dialogue.

3. To facilitate contacts and meetings between relevant organizations, the two sides may establish border personnel meeting sites in all sectors, as well as telephone contacts and telecommunication links at mutually agreed locations along the line of actual control. The two sides may also consider establishing a Hotline between the military headquarters of the two countries.

4. The two sides will exercise maximum self-restraint, refrain from any provocative actions, not use force or threaten to use force if they were to come face-to-face in areas where there is no common understanding of LAC.

5. India and China have also agreed to implement this Agreement without prejudice to their respective positions on the alignment of the LAC as well as on the boundary question.

The deal is landmark in more ways than one as it comes against the backdrop of strain in ties following repeated incursions into Indian territory by the People`s Liberation Army (PLA) troops.

In all 9 agreements, including the BDCA were signed between the two sides.

Addressing the press after he held restricted and delegation level talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said, “We have signed the border agreement, and we hope to maintain peace, tranquillity and stability in border areas.”

Both sides are committed to maintain momentum of regular high-level engagements and will issue a joint statement which will lay out plans for a strategic agreement between the two nations, Li said.

On his talks with the Indian Prime Minister, Keqiang said, “Just now I had a friendly, sincere and in-depth talk with the Prime Minister. I hope to foster better relation. I also appreciate the efforts made by Manmohan Singh to better ties between China and India.”

“Two sides have also agreed to hold counter terrorism training in China as well as work together to tackle terror. Trans-border river cooperation agreement has also been signed by both sides,” he said.

“We have agreed peace and tranquillity must be the foundation of growth for both sides. Negotiations towards a fair, reasonable, acceptable solution to border, this will be our strategic benchmark,” he stressed.

On the economic front, Manmohan Singh said, “Premier Li was receptive to my concerns about imbalance of trade between India and China,” adding that both sides were “determined to inject new dynamism in our economic cooperation.”

He also said that India is talking forward the suggestion made by premier Li in Delhi of a Chinese industrial park. The possibility of BCIM corridor of connecting the two countries through the Silk Road is also being explored, he said.

Manmohan Singh also broached the stapled visa issue during talks with Li. “I hope that China will help facilitate visits of Indian nationals to China,” he said.

“China and India`s relations are above all a relationship between 2.5 billion people of our countries...When India and China shake hands the world notices,” he said.

Earlier, Manmohan and Li first held restricted delegation talks followed by detailed delegation level talks. The two sides then signed a series of agreements including the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA).

Ahead of the talks, Singh was received at the Great Hall of the People and accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour.