NEW DELHI — China has sent a draft of a border cooperation agreement to India, a document that is expected to be signed when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Beijing in October, according to Indian Defence Ministry sources.
Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony told the Lower House of Indian Parliament on Aug. 20 that a draft has been received.
“Two rounds of negotiations have been held so far. The purpose of the proposed agreement is to formalize mechanisms and procedures to enhance mutual trust and confidence between the border troops of India and China and to facilitate the maintenance of peace and tranquility along the border with China,” Antony said.
Antony, during a visit to Beijing July 4-7, discussed with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Chang Wanquan, the establishment of a formal mechanism to improve security at the borders, pending the final settlement of the territorial dispute between the two countries.
The Border Defense Cooperation Agreement is expected to create a formal mechanism to prevent clashes between the two countries’ troops along the more than 4,000-kilometer-long Line of Actual Control.
“Finalization of the agreement may not be very easy because China will insist on stoppage on infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control in areas which India says fall in its territory,” said Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general.
China claims 92,000 square kilometers of Indian territory. The Line of Actual Control is neither marked on the ground nor on mutually accepted maps.
Both the countries have been building infrastructure and acquiring weapons and equipment along their borders.
Even as India prepares to fight China in the future, the possibility of a war in the near future appears remote, analysts said.
Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier general and New Delhi-based defense analyst, has told Defense News previously that there is little chance of the two countries going to war now.
“India and China are both strategically unprepared for war. The two Asian giants are presently on the catch-up curve from developing to developed countries. While they are simultaneously modernizing the militaries, the overall national strategies appears to be to maintain the status quo until comprehensive national power reaches a level where surplus can be invested in war making,” Bhonsle has said. “This stage may be decades away.”
India spends around $38 billion on defense spending, compared with China’s $115.7 billion.