Beijing: India and China on Friday pledged to resolve their decades-long boundary dispute by intensifying their efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to the vexed issue at the earliest. At the 21st round border talks between India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi in Chinese city Chengdu, both sides agreed their long-winding border must be kept quiet.
Both Doval and Wang are their respective countries’ special representatives on the boundary issue. The officials took forward what was agreed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at their two-day Wuhan summit in April.
They agreed that the border dispute must not affect the bilateral ties. New Delhi in a statement said both officials “resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the India-China boundary question at an early date.”
The world’s most populous and fastest-growing economies have a decades-old dispute over a 3,448-km border, the main source of friction between the two Asian giants.
The world’s 9th longest border has three sections: the western sector between Ladakh and the Chinese-held Aksai Chin; the central sector ranges from Uttarakhand and Tibet; the eastern sector divides Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh from Tibet.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as the part of South Tibet while India lays its claims to Aksai Chin. The two fought a brief but bloody war in 1962 and have had several skirmishes since then. Their latest and one of the most serious showdowns was last year at Doklam, a contested region between China and Bhutan close to India’s arterial highway where the Chinese were building a road.
The 73-day stand-off, which ended in August after both armies decided to retreat from the point of friction, sent the already-strained ties to a new low.
However, the two sides have tried to repair the relationship by stepping up engagements, with Wuhan informal summit Modi and Xi the outcome of the efforts.
The statement said the border 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 their informal summit at Wuhan in April 2018.”
Doval and Wang agreed “that pending the final resolution of the boundary question, it is important to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and to ensure that the boundary question does not affect the overall development of the bilateral relationship.”
“They 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.”
Wang Yi, who is also China’s Foreign Minister, said that New China and India will accelerate the development process of the two countries and make new and important contributions to world peace and human progress.
This was Wang’s first meeting in this capacity after he was promoted as China’s State Councillor — country’s top diplomat — in March.
“It is necessary for the two countries’ special meeting mechanism to keep up with this positive trend and create more favourable conditions and environment for bilateral relations through constructively promoting border negotiations.”
Both sides also discussed setting up a hotline between their armies to avert a Doklam-like crisis in the future. They “acknowledged the importance of predictability in border management, and in that context, underscoring the importance of maintaining strategic communication at all levels.”
“They directed the bilateral Working Mechanism on Consultation & Coordination for Border Affairs to work out further details in this regard.”
They two stock of the developments after Xi-Modi meet at Wuhan and the SCO summit in Qingdao. The regional and world issues, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, also figured in the talks.
Doval said that under the guidance of the vision and determination of the leaders of India and China, India-China relations will achieve anew turning point and achieve positive and good development.
Doval also expressed his condolences over the attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi and strongly condemned this terrorist act. Wang Yi emphasized that the attack was directed against diplomatic institutions and was of a bad nature and could not be tolerated.