New Delhi: More than 16 years and 22 rounds of talks later, highest level of India-China talks to resolve the border issue has not yielded any positive outcome. This is the reason why there are often skirmishes between the two countries along their borders.

Sources said there is a mechanism to discuss the issue between Special Representatives (SRs). The annual SR talks are regarded highly by both sides as it is the highest official level forum with a mandate to discuss not only the solution to the boundary issue, but also all other issues concerning the two countries. “As per the practice, the two countries hold the meetings in rotation. However, this mechanism is not delivering results as the Chinese side does not want the issue to be resolved. It suits them to use these border troubles as a leverage to pressurise India on other fronts,” a source said.

The last India-China border talks, the 22nd round, between their Special Representatives (SRs) were held in New Delhi in December last year. The Chinese delegation was led by its Foreign Minister Wang Yi, while National Security Advisor Ajit Doval headed the Indian team at the boundary talks. Wang was the designated Special Representative of China. In that meeting, both sides reiterated the need to “maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas for the overall development of the bilateral relationship, pending final settlement of the boundary question”.

The SR mechanism was institutionalised in 2003 after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to China led to the agreement. Vajpayee was keen to resolve the Sino-India boundary problem during his lifetime. The then NSA Brajesh Mishra was appointed the first Indian SR. The India-China border dispute covers 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC). China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet, while India contests it. During the last year’s meeting, the SRs underlined the importance of approaching the boundary question from the strategic perspective of India-China relations and agreed that an early settlement of the boundary question serves the fundamental interests of both countries.

The two SRs resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the India-China boundary question in accordance with the directives provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping. This is to be noted that the border dispute, besides a host of other issues, were discussed between Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their second informal summit at Mamallapuram in October last year. After this summit meeting, Xi had said in a statement: “We will seek a fair and reasonable solution to the border issue that is acceptable to both sides in accordance with the agreement on political guiding principles. We should carefully handle issues concerning each other’s core interests. We should properly manage and control problems that cannot be solved for the time being.” Asked why the border issues have not been resolved till now, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: “As you are aware, a meeting was held between the Corps Commanders of India and China on 6 June 2020 in the Chushul-Moldo region. This meeting was in continuation of the diplomatic and military engagements which both sides have maintained to address the situation in areas along the India-China border. It was agreed that an early resolution of the situation would be in keeping with the guidance of the leaders.”