Ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India later in November, senior Army officers of India and China met behind closed doors to ensure that “good relations and the growing peace” along the long Line of Actual Control (LAC) is maintained. Led by Brigadier Sanjay Kulkarni of the 190 Mountain Brigade, the Indian Army says that the fourth meeting this year was useful to build trust and confidence between the nation nations which went to war in 1962. Historically, India and China never fought each other and instead for thousands of years exchanged embassies, goods, services, spices, religions, and philosophy.
With growing peace overtures, platitudes, and measured steps, both nations are slowly beginning to relax from confrontationist positions. In fact, there has been no confrontation between the two large armies in the last 2 decades and in fact inadvertent straying of defense personnel have been peacefully repatriated at flag meetings. Agreed in 1996, the border personnel meetings (BPM) protocol was established in 1999 to resolve disputes locally and amicably. This was solidified by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit last year and the number of flag meetings was increased to 4 from 2. This careful interaction has prevented any outbreak of hostilities since 1986 on 5 “sensitive areas” where perceptions continue to differ.
This studied bonhomie has helped maintain peace, what is required is a studied roadmap that can bring everlasting peace between these two ancient civilizations torn apart by divisive ideology.
One important vehicle towards peace is the increased trade which will be bolstered though 12 agreements that are expected to signed during Jintao’s visit. Other than trade, student exchanges and holding festivals on a reciprocal basis are expected to feature in these agreements. China will surely bring up the issue of restrictions on Foreign Direct Investment curbs by India and the need to open up trade routes. India should be careful of going the full throttle yet on opening up investments in telecommunications, port access, and trade access without inbuilt transparency of the investors.