China and India should “meet each other halfway” to reach a “fair and reasonable” political solution to the border dispute acceptable to both sides, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said in an indication of Beijing’s willingness to make concessions on the vexed issue.
As National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who along with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi held border talks, concluded his visit here, China said in a statement that both sides had in-depth and candid exchanges on the boundary question, bilateral relations and relevant international and regional issues.
“Both sides agreed that the negotiation on China-India boundary maintains a positive momentum, with boundary disputes effectively controlled and boundary regions generally peaceful and stable,” said the statement on the boundary talks held on April 20-21.
“Starting from the big picture of long-term development of bilateral relations, both sides will, with the positive attitude of mutual respect and understanding and on the basis of existing results from negotiations, stay on the track of political settlement, stick to peaceful negotiations to resolve the boundary question, meet each other halfway and continue to promote the process of framework negotiation so as to strive for a fair and reasonable solution that both sides accept,” the statement posted on the foreign ministry website said.
China has rarely publicly talked about meeting India “half way” on the vexed boundary dispute.
The reference to both the countries to stay on track for a political settlement is seen as significant as officials on both side say negotiations have reached a stage for the political leadership on both sides to take a decision to reach a solution.
Doval’s predecessor, Shivshankar Menon, who represented India in several rounds of the border talks, said in 2014 during a meeting here that all the technical work has been done and it is for the leaders of both the countries to take a call.
“In the meantime, the two countries should properly manage and handle disputes, strengthen consultations on boundary affairs and well safeguard peace and tranquility in boundary regions so as to create favourable conditions for the development of bilateral relations,” the statement said.
It said both sides shared the view that the development of China-India relations is of great significance and has broad prospects.
“China and India have far more common interests than differences. Marked by President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in 2014 and the visit paid by Prime Minister Narenda Modi of India to China in 2015, China-India relations have entered a new era of comprehensive and rapid development,” it said.
“Communication and cooperation in various fields have also achieved important progress. The two sides should well implement the key consensus reached by the two heads of state, conduct close high-level exchanges and tap cooperation potential, so as to elevate China-India relations to a higher level,” the statement said.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup, on the border talks, said, “Discussions focussed on two broad issues — one — efforts to find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question — and two –maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”
“On the first matter, both sides are discussing a framework and the 19th round carried forward these discussions. On the second issue, both sides agreed that no major incident had taken place in the last several months,” Swarup said.
“They discussed various means to strengthen peace and tranquillity in the border areas. In this context both sides agreed to establish a hotline between the two armed forces and we will now work out the modalities. The NSA also exchanged views on various regional and international issues of mutual interest,” he said.
On the border dispute, officials on both sides say the protracted boundary talks made progress and that they also made attempts to avert tensions along the disputed border.
While China says that the boundary dispute is confined to 2,000 km, mainly in Arunachal Pradesh in eastern sector which it claims as part of southern Tibet, India asserts that the dispute covered the whole of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) including the Aksai Chin area occupied by China during the 1962 war.
When the Special Representatives were appointed in 2003, the two sides set off a three-stage process.
The two countries first reached an agreement on the guiding principles and setting political parameters for the settlement in 2005.
Officials say the two sides are currently in the second stage which focuses on working out a framework of settlement to be followed by the final step of drawing the boundary line based on the framework agreement.