By KJM Varma | PTI
BEIJING, China, 24 November 2018
In a significant step, India and China on Saturday resolved to “intensify” their efforts to achieve a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable” solution to the vexed boundary question at an early date as the special representatives of the two countries held “constructive and forward-looking” talks over the issue.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met at Dujiangyan near Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan province for the 21st round of Special Representatives’ (SR) talks.
Official statements issued by both sides spoke of advancing the process to find a solution to the border issue.
A statement issued by the Indian Embassy after the talks said “recalling the strategic guidance and support to their work provided by the leaders at the Wuhan Summit (between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping), the SRs resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the India-China boundary question at an early date.”
A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry of China said that under the political guidance of the leadership of the two countries, both sides would continue to advance the negotiation process of the special representatives’ mechanism; strive for an early settlement of the boundary question that is fair, reasonable and acceptable to both sides.
The statements by the two sides are being seen as a step forward from last year’s boundary talks held in New Delhi.
Last year, both sides “agreed that an early settlement of the boundary question serves the fundamental interests of both countries”.
The Indian statement said while an early solution would serve the fundamental interests of both the countries, the two designated SRs for the border talks said pending the final solution, the two countries should maintain peace and tranquillity at the borders, ensuring that the dispute does not affect the overall development of bilateral ties.
The Chinese statement too said “before the final settlement of the border issue, we will jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas between the two countries”.
The India-China border dispute covers 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC). China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet.
This was the first round of talks for Wang after he succeeded State Councillor Yang Jiechi earlier this year. Wang has become the state councillor, a rank higher than the foreign minister in the Chinese government’s hierarchy.
Doval and Wang also “underlined the importance of approaching the boundary question from the strategic perspective of India-China relations and agreed that an early settlement of the boundary question serves the fundamental interests of both countries,” the Indian statement said.
“They noted the mature handling of issues relating to the India-China border areas since the Wuhan Summit,” it said.
Acknowledging the importance of predictability in border management and underscoring the importance of maintaining strategic communication at all levels, the SRs held discussions on various confidence building measures to promote exchanges and communication between their border personnel.
They directed that the Working Mechanism on Consultation and Coordination for Border Affairs — which periodically meets to deal with issues arising due to aggressive patrols by the two militaries along the LAC — to work out further details over it.
The Chinese statement said both sides had in-depth communication on further strengthening confidence-building measures in border areas, properly managing disputes and resolving boundary issues. They reached important consensus and each proposed a series of positive and constructive suggestions.
Doval and Wang also reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations following the Wuhan Summit and subsequent meetings between Modi and Xi in Qingdao in June 2018 and in Johannesburg in July 2018.
The two SRs has underlined the importance of sustained and effective implementation of the directions given by their leaders with a view to further strengthening the Closer Developmental Partnership between India and China to mutual benefit and with due respect for each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations, the statement said.
The talks were constructive and forward looking, and focussed on taking forward the India-China Closer Developmental Partnership in pursuance of the guidance provided by Modi and Xi at Wuhan, the statement said.
“The SRs undertook a comprehensive review of earlier rounds of talks under the SR mechanism,” it said.
The Chinese statement said both sides have agreed to gradually expand border trade and personnel exchanges, promoting the public opinion about friendly cooperation between the two countries in the border areas, and create a good atmosphere for border negotiations and the development of bilateral relations.
The two sides agreed to authorise the China-India consultation and coordination mechanism for border affairs and initiate early-stage consultations to achieve concrete results as soon as possible, the Chinese statement said.
The Chinese statement quoted Doval as saying that “a mutually acceptable solution to the boundary issue will send a positive signal to the outside world that the two ancient civilisations of India and China have the wisdom and capability to peacefully resolve problems through dialogue and consultation”.