India and China discussed all “perennials” of their engagement, including the border issue and economic ties, in Beijing’s first interaction with the Modi administration, here on Sunday. India described the bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, lasting 3 hours and 10 minutes, as a “very productive beginning”.
Wang, according to the MEA spokepserson, said the new Indian government had “injected new vitality into an ancient civilisation”. “He said that the international community was closely following developments in India. The Chinese and Indian dreams have a lot of commonalities, China welcomes the development of India, China supports the development of India, and is ready to engage with the new government of India,” Syed Akbaruddin said.
Sources said an assertive Swaraj put across the NDA government’s position on all issues of significance, from the complex boundary issue to the lopsided trade relations, from Pakistan ties to the nuclear activities, with “candour”, using expressions in Mandarin to welcome Wang and to conclude the meeting.
Swaraj used a mix of Hindi and English to interact with her Chinese counterpart at the meeting, which continued over lunch. The choice of the newly built Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan, the MEA headquarters, over the traditional Hyderabad House as the venue may have been a conscious one to project a new, modern face. Later, Wang visited the National Museum located opposite the Bhavan.
The MEA spokesperson described the “tone, tenor and trajectory” of the talks as “cordial, useful, comprehensive, covering all important issues, substantive and productive”. Elaborating, Akbaruddin said, “China is a neighbour with whom we share a long border. Our neighbourhood as you are aware is a major focus of the government’s diplomatic engagement. China is also a major economy and our bilateral economic ties are of a significant magnitude. The perennials of India-China engagement are well known… all issues of significance were raised and discussed in a frank manner.”
He asserted that Swaraj also made it clear that while there was a determination to add new content and substance to the relationship, respect for each other’s “sensitivities and aspirations” was “essential for expansion of bilateral relations”. Asked specifically whether Depsang-like situation on the border was discussed, he said: “Nothing of perennial nature was missed out.” He also replied in the affirmative on whether China-Pakistan relations had come up.
On the issue of cooperation on terrorism, MEA joint secretary Gautam Bambawale, who heads the China desk, said, “We already have a joint working group on counter-terrorism, which meets very regularly. Wang appreciated India’s position on terrorist incidents in China.”
On the issue of economic relations, he said, “There was a fairly long discussion. These continued…