by Jiang Chenglong and Aparajit Chakraborty

The 19th round of the China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting was held at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side from Sunday to Monday, the Chinese Defence Ministry announced on Tuesday. The ministry said in a joint bilingual news release that the two sides had a “positive, constructive and in-depth” discussion on the resolution of the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector.

In line with the guidance provided by the leadership of the two countries, both sides exchanged views in an “open and forward looking manner”, it said, noting that they agreed to resolve the remaining issues in an expeditious manner and maintain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations through military and diplomatic channels.

“In the interim, the two sides agreed to maintain the peace and tranquility on the ground in the border areas,” the news release added.

The outcome of the 19th round of the China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting has raised hopes of improving bilateral relations ahead of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg from Aug 22–24 and the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi a fortnight later, analysts said.

BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

For the first time, the high-level military talks on the border row continued for two days, and the discussions lasted around 17 hours, senior officials familiar with the matter said.

The talks were held at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side on August 13-14, the joint statement said.

General Shankar Roy Chowdhury, a former chief of army staff of the Indian Army, said such a high-level military meeting to resolve the border disputes can create a positive atmosphere in bilateral relations ahead of the Johannesburg and New Delhi summits.

Swaran Singh, a professor of international relations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, pointed out that back in 2017, China and India were able to resolve the border crisis in Doklam just in time before the BRICS summit in Xiamen, China.

The border issue is a delicate one and will take a long time to reach an agreement, former Indian Army brigadier P K Sanyal pointed out. In order to bring bilateral relations back on track, both sides should continue the talks at the military and diplomatic levels, he added.

Ahead of the G20 summit, both sides are making serious efforts to improve their ties, said Professor Srikanth Kondapalli, School of International Studies at JNU.

Their previous round of negotiations, held in April, concluded without a joint press statement.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told the media in New Delhi last week that border talks between the two neighbours have not been “halted”. He added that both countries “have made progress on key tension points in the last three years”.

On May 31, the 27th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination was held in New Delhi as part of efforts to defuse tension and restore peace and tranquility in the border areas, according to press statements issued by both countries after the meeting.

China, meanwhile, congratulated India as it marked its 77th Independence Day on Aug 15.

“Congratulations to all Indian friends on #IndependenceDay2023. China and India helped each other in the struggle for national liberation and independence. May the two largest developing countries join hands to promote common development and prosperity in the days ahead,” the Chinese embassy tweeted on Aug 15.

First published in CHINA DAILY Hong Kong August 16, 2023