NEW DELHI: India and China are likely to sign a major security cooperation agreement, which would enhance their efforts to jointly fight terrorism and international crime, when New Delhi hosts Chinese Communist Party’s influential politburo member Meng Jianzhu next week. Meng is likely to visit India on November 8, when the two sides are expected to seal the umbrella security cooperation pact.

The terms, which is currently being negotiated, will also include a mutual legal assistance treaty mechanism, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Chinese leader’s visit is part of a High-Level Meeting Mechanism that was established when Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Beijing last year. Singh was the first Indian home minister to visit China in over a decade.

Meng handles public and internal security matters in the party and his dialogue with the Indian side is likely to focus on Pak-based terror outfits, terror infrastructure and terror leaders, including Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar, besides threats from the Islamic State.

Meng, secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the ruling party, is more powerful than some ministers in China including its foreign minister and wields considerable influence on policymaking, according to China watchers.

India is pushing for action against Azhar as the Chinese veto in the UN Security Council against a move to ban the JeM chief is coming to an end in December. In September, China renewed its veto for three months on the Azhar case, seeking more information.

Meng’s visit, which will be preceded by State Councilor Yang Jiechi’s trip to Hyderabad on November 4 to meet National Security Adviser AK Doval, can be viewed as India’s balancing act as Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Japan on November 10 for the annual bilateral summit meeting. These highlevel visits could work as confidence buildingmeasures amid irritants in ties over Pak-based terror, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and Beijing’s intransigence over India’s bid to become NSGmember.

Notwithstanding differences between China and India over Pakistan’s export of terror to India, it has been learnt that Beijing is keen to work with New Delhi to keep a tab on Islamic State’s recruitments in the region. Both Yang and Meng may discuss a mechanism for sharing information on ISIS’ influence.

The Economic Times View: Channels Should be Opened

The current spike in engagement with China must not be seen as an effort to a balancing act with Japan. These are two different kinds of engagement, which may have a balancing impact, but that is not the primary aim. New Delhi must keep the channels of communication open with India’s northern neighbour, especially given China’s relationship with Pakistan. On the other hand, India has strong, friendly, and historical ties with Japan. The cordial ties between PM Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should boost the India-Japan relationship.