Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived here tonight on a six-day visit to China during which he will discuss ways to boost bilateral security ties and check smuggling of arms to militants in India’s Northeast.
His visit comes in the backdrop of steady improvement of relations between the two countries while streamlining mechanisms to address the vexed border dispute.
Singh is the first Indian Home Minister to visit China in over a decade.
“I am looking forward to my visit to China. Hope it would help in deepening of mutual understanding and trust. During my China visit I intend to further strengthen the tradition of mutual learning and better understanding from each other,” he said in a statement in New Delhi before his departure.
Shivraj Patil was the last Home Minister who had visited China in 2005.
During his visit, Singh, the second highest ranking Indian leader after Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit China in May this year, would spend three days in Beijing followed by a three-day stay in Shanghai.
In Beijing, he will hold talks with China’s Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun, who is also the State Councillor in the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), a rank above the Minister and other Chinese leaders.
In Shanghai, he will meet the Indian community members and interact with them.
Singh’s visit closely follows a rare visit by China’s topmost military official to India.
General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), visited India and Pakistan last week, the first tour by China’s highest ranking military official to both the countries in a decade.
Singh’s visit is considered to be an opportunity to consolidate efforts by both sides to build political trust initiated during the visits of President Xi Jinping to India last year followed by Modi’s trip to China.
While the issues relating to standoffs at the border between both the troops were being addressed by the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC), Singh’s visit is expected to firm up security cooperation in various fronts including curbing smuggling of arms, drugs and counterfeit currency.
China for its part has pressed huge number of security forces to crackdown on al-Qaeda-linked East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) militants in Xinjiang who had bases in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
India too faces the constant threat of cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan across the Line of Control.
Besides issues relating to terrorism, Singh’s talks are expected to crystallise security cooperation between the two countries including more effective crackdown by China in limiting arms supplies to militant groups in Northeastern states.