A day before he and his BRICS counterparts call on Chinese President Xi Jinping, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and held talks Thursday which Beijing said included “major problems” and “regional issues”.
The meeting, amid the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam at the trijunction with Bhutan, was held on the sidelines of the BRICS security summit in Beijing. Doval and Yang are also special representatives of the India-China border mechanism.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “Yang also separately exchanged views with the three senior representatives on bilateral relations, international and regional issues and multilateral affairs, and set forth China’s position on bilateral issues and major problems.” There was, however, no comment or readout from the Indian side. Around the time the two NSAs met, New Delhi said “differences between India and China should be handled or addressed in such a manner that they do not become disputes”.
Underlining that this is the Indian government’s approach, Gopal Baglay, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters that India wants to go ahead as per the “Astana consensus” — referring to outcomes from the June 9 bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President in Kazakhstan’s capital. “We have also mentioned our approach to the settlement of border… our approach is to resolve in a peaceful manner through discussions. There are established mechanisms to address the border issue,” Baglay said.
“As far as the current situation, we have again said that we have pointed to the Astana consensus between President Xi Jinping and PM Modi. The first component (of the Astana consensus) is that relations are significant and the two countries are a factor of stability. And the second component is that differences between India and China be handled or addressed in manner that they do not become disputes. That remains our approach.” Baglay was referring to the 40-minute meeting on June 9 which, according to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, was a “very positive and cordial” meeting.
In Astana, Jaishankar had said, “There was also an understanding that where we have differences, differences should not become disputes. In fact, if handled well, can even become opportunity. The sense of the meeting was that two countries have great interest in working with each other and we will have differences. Where we have differences, how to work and find common ground. And wherever we have concerns, each side will look at with a degree of seriousness.”
Doval, who arrived in Beijing Wednesday, will take part in the two-day meeting of NSAs of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) being hosted by Yang.
Meanwhile, the government told Parliament Thursday that there was no quid pro quo with China on the issue of “sufferings” of the Tibetan people and stapled visas being given to Arunachal Pradesh residents by Beijing. Responding to questions in Rajya Sabha on the issue of stapled visa to Arunachal residents by China, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said “the issue has been raised in every bilateral meeting at various levels, be it at my level or that of the Prime Minister. The issue has been raised by us.”
Asked about India’s stand on Tibet, she said “we used to earlier talk of One China policy, but we used to say that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. And when we say that, we want that China should also recognise this. Our policy has been made very clear.” On the issue of whether India remains a mute spectator towards alleged atrocities in Tibet, she said, “We are not sitting as a mute spectator. Whenever there are differences, we raise them.”
She said the Dalai Lama wanted to visit Tawang and “we allowed him to do so”. This was not the first time but the fifth or sixth time that he was visiting the place. “Whatever issue that is there that goes against India’s interest, we lodge our protest,” Swaraj said. To another question, she said there was no policy under which Chinese companies are denied security permission.