NSA Ajit Doval in Beijing this week: Amid Sikkim stand off, all eyes on BRICS NSA summit which begins on 27 July

As the ongoing India-China standoff in the Doka La region in Northeastern part of the country continues for the second month, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is all set to travel to Beijing to attend a BRICS NSA summit on 27 and 28 July. "As far as visit of the National Security Advisor to China for the meeting of BRICS NSAs is concerned, I can confirm that he will be visiting. The visit will take place on 27 and 28 July," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.

Asked whether Doval will have any bilateral meeting with any Chinese leader or the Special Representative for boundary talks on the sidelines of the meeting of NSAs from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Baglay did not give a direct reply. "We will keep you informed as and when there are developments," Baglay said.

The visit comes days after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the Monsoon Session of the Parliament over the ongoing border stand-off  in the Doka La area of the Sikkim sector, which began over two months ago after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.

NSA Ajit Doval in Beijing this week: Amid Sikkim stand off, all eyes on BRICS NSA summit which begins on 27 July

A file image of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi. Reuters

Expounding upon the issue, Swaraj added that the status quo on Sikkim border was not altered by India, but China. "China has unilaterally tried to change the status quo at the tri-junction and that is a threat to our security. We are willing to talk, but both sides should take back their armies to the original position. We are involved in a tri-junction this time and it's directly related to us, if China will change that...that is threat to our security," Swaraj said.

"Saare desh humare saath hain aur sabhi desh samjh rahe hain ki bharat ne jo apna mat rakha hai woh galat nahi hai (All countries are supporting us and they understand that India’s viewpoint on the issue is not incorrect)," Swaraj said.

Chinese welcome visit

Chinese analysts have welcomed the Doval's meeting with his counterpart Yang Jiechi, claiming that the meeting may help ease prevailing tensions on the border.  Ma Jiali, a research fellow at the China Reform Forum thinktank, said Doval's visit may be key and would serve as an opportunity to ease India-China tensions.

"China would lodge solemn representation with the Indian side during Doval's visit, hoping it could take measures to ease the tension. India may make some requests as a bargaining chip for its pulling out troops," Ma, who specialises in India-China studies, told Global Times on Sunday.

Doval-Yang already into resolving issue

Both Doval and Yang are also the Special Representatives for India-China boundary talks. The two sides have held 19 rounds of boundary talks to resolve their differences.

Chinese officials say Doval and Yang may have informal talks to resolve the standoff in Dokalam in the Sikkim sector. Analysts, however, cautioned that if the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the issue, the China-India ties would be severely damaged.

Doval doctrine and China

While Doval's visit to China is being welcomed in China, the NSA's hardline stance on China may come to haunt him during the talks.

His rare public interactions, since he assumed office of NSA, have revealed that Doval prefers depending on military solutions over ceding ground in compromises. When India's traditional policy in handling border disputes with its neighbours has propagated a defensive approach, it was Doval who pitched the concept of defensive-offensive and offensive foreign policy.

Doval's stance over border disputes with neighbouring nations can be gauged through his Nani Palkiwala Memorial Lecture, 2014 and the Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture, 2015.

Answering a question about tackling China's growing might, Doval conceded that China's military is much more stronger than India, even as the former Intelligence Bureau director hailed India's missile technology. He said that it was tough for India to match China's might in the next fifty years, but he advocated ramping up missile technology to target China's economic installations, which he said were the Dragon's only vulnerable spot.

Doval's past comments on China's 'bottomless territorial hunger' assumes importance in these times, as the NSA's visit to Beijing could be a make-or-break situation on India-China border stalemate.

India-China relations right now

While the border stand-off continues, bilateral relations between India and China have not deteriorated as much as it is being described in the national media of both the nations. As this Firstpost article argued, after the Doka La crisis, none of the bilateral visit have been cancelled. In fact, while the border standoff ensued, media reported five senior BJP leaders visited China during that time.

However, the article also noted that there is always the possibility that things could turn ugly given China, as a neighbour, is more powerful and assertive than it was ten or twenty years ago. Pressure by the US government — for both nations to resolve the dispute quickly through talks — will not make much of a difference as both consider this a strategic issue, the article added.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jul 24, 2017 11:16:34 IST

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