India and China have had 20 rounds of talks on border disputes so far, the last one in November, 2016. These ‘Special Representative’ level talks, at least three of which have been held between India’s Naional Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart, have been over and above the other deliberations at different levels of the Foreign Secretary and Joint Secretary-level talks.
Amidst speculation that the NSA, who is expected to attend the BRICS NSA level talks in Beijing later this month on July 27 and 28, will take the opportunity to discuss bilateral ties and specifically the border disputes, there is scepticism over the visit.
While Doval is known to have advocated capacity building in India’s long-range missile system as a deterrent to China, observers wonder if the Chinese road building efforts are a response to convey that if a missile is ever deployed, China would be prepared to push deep into Indian territory.
The New Indian Express in 2014 had quoted former Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa as saying that Ajit Doval’s “obsession with China” had led India to work for a ‘regime change’ in Sri Lanka in 2014. While UPA’s National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, he added, looked at things as a diplomat, Doval looked at it from the perspective of an ‘Intelligence Officer’.