By Prarthana Mitra
Bringing decades of animosity to a head, India and China on Monday signed a security cooperation agreement, a first of its kind, to work together in strengthening their counter-terrorism strategies among others. Diplomats of both nations also agreed in a historic first, to consolidate their partnership in tackling organised crimes, drug control, human trafficking, based on a relationship that banks on the exchange of information.
A new beginning for both countries
Overseen and signed by key dignitaries Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and China’s State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi, the agreement comes within a year of the Doklam stand-off, a period of prolonged tension at the India-Bhutan-China border which saw the Indian Army and the China’s People’s Liberation Army at their fiercest.
In April this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held an informal summit in Wuhan, China, to resolve border disputes and mend bilateral relations. According to officials in the Home Ministry, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both sides in 2005 had expired three years ago.
All you need to know about the first bilateral meeting
The agreement thus arrives against this backdrop, and in the heels of the first high-level bilateral talks on security cooperation, co-chaired by Singh and Zhao who arrived at the national capital on October 21 with an entourage of 30 Chinese diplomats. Rajnath Singh who heads eight central armed police forces with a combined strength of about 10 lakh personnel was able to hold his own over the two-hour meeting with Zhao, who commands 19 lakh personnel and looks after day-to-day law enforcement in China.
The two lawmakers met to discuss how security measures and counter-terrorism cooperation can be increased between the two countries, according to a Home Ministry statement. “Had a fruitful meeting with the State Councilor and Minister of Public Security of China, Zhao Kezhi in New Delhi today,” Rajnath tweeted afterwards.
Minutes of the discussion
Besides the Home Minister, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and other senior officials of Ministry of Home Affairs met with the bevvy of Chinese officials and were in attendance during the signing ceremony.
The agreement and the high-level meeting could potentially serve as a bellwether for improved security and bilateral relations between the South Asian nations. It can even culminate in an India-China agreement for the exchange of sentenced prisoners, according to officials close to the development. So far, neither country has an extradition treaty or a pact to exchange each other’s sentenced prisoners. In light of the rapidly evolving international relations in the west, it bodes well for Asia’s leading economy to ease tension with its most rapidly emerging economy.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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