Striking a positive note in tune with the Astana consensus, India and China agreed Friday to maintain “regular contact” and “build on their convergences”, while seeking mutually acceptable resolution of their differences with “due respect for each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations”. This is also in line with the understanding at the BRICS summit in Xiamen, where both sides agreed to put the Doklam border crisis behind them.
This was the major takeaway from the meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, Special Representatives on the boundary question. This is the first time that a Special Representative from the Chinese side is also a member of the powerful politburo of the Communist Party of China.
The two sides are learnt to have discussed several confidence-building measures, including some at the field-level, and some at higher levels. They agreed that efforts should be made to ensure that “defence and security (personnel) must maintain strong contacts and cooperation” at the borders to “ensure that (the) sort of situation which happened recently should not recur”.
Sources told The Indian Express that officials from the foreign ministries and militaries of both countries will meet periodically to resolve issues that may affect maintenance of peace along the border. The two sides will also hold sectoral commander meetings at various border points. These flow from the working mechanism in October 2013 to ensure peace and tranquility along the border between the two countries.
Sources said that the two sides took a “forward-looking approach”, and discussions were “very constructive on where the relationship should be going and will be going”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met Yang, said a “strong India-China relationship is important not only for the mutual benefit of the people of India and China, but also for the region and the world”.
After the 20th round of talks between the Special Representatives — less than two weeks after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited India for the Russia-India-China trilateral meeting — the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the Special Representatives undertook a comprehensive review of earlier rounds of talks and agreed that an “early settlement of the boundary question serves the fundamental interests of both countries”.
They re-emphasised their commitment to achieve a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the India-China boundary question at an early date”, the statement said. “The two sides agreed that pending the final resolution of the boundary question, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. In this regard, the Special Representatives exchanged ideas on various confidence building measures,” it said.
The talks were “positive” and focused on bringing out the “full potential” of the Closer Developmental Partnership between the two countries, it said. Besides the boundary question, the two Special Representatives also reviewed the development of India-China bilateral relations.
“They agreed to maintain regular contact and to advance the development of bilateral relations in all areas. They underlined the need for the two countries to build on their convergences, while seeking mutually acceptable resolutions of their differences with due respect for each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations. They acknowledged that as two large developing countries engaged in their national modernisation, relations between India and China transcend their bilateral dimensions and have significance for peace, stability and development of Asia and the world. Both sides also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.
During Yang’s meeting with Modi, he conveyed the greetings of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang and briefed him on the talks. “The Prime Minister fondly recalled his visit to Xiamen for the 9th BRICS Summit in September 2017, and his meeting with President Xi Jinping there,” a PMO statement said.
Recalling the consensus reached at the Kazakh capital Astana early June, officials said that they had both agreed that they would not let differences become disputes, and when the world was changing, the two would ensure that India-China relations were a factor of stability.
That position was, once again, reaffirmed as both sides felt that while it is natural that there would be areas of difference between neighbours and large powers, but wherever there is an area of difference, they should be handled with mutual respect and efforts should be made to find common ground in addressing those areas.