China on Tuesday tried to play down India’s fears that Beijing could use strategically positioned dams to regulate water flow in the rivers in the northeast of the country.
The Chinese foreign ministry said that Beijing was cooperating with New Delhi with data about the volume of water flow and is ready to assist in tackling emergencies.
“China has made great efforts in providing flood season hydro data to the Indian side and assist them in dealing with emergency management,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press briefing.
Hua was answering a question on whether the issue of water sharing will come up during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s interactions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
Singh is on a three-day visit to China where he will sign the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) on Wednesday, which assumes significance after the Chinese intrusion in the Depsang valley in Ladakh earlier this year.
Hua said the two countries have agreed that the boundary question should be solved through friendly consultations between the two sides.
“We also agreed that pending the final settlement of the boundary question, joint effort should be made to maintain peace and tranquility in border areas. The two sides have also established a lot of consultation mechanisms on border-related issues and these are performing well and have played important role in maintaining peace,” she said.
Hua said consensus between the two countries on issues far “outweigh the differences and we would like to make a joint effort with the Indian side to properly resolve differences and ensure the sound growth of our bilateral relations”.
Singh’s visit is also likely to deepen economic ties between the two countries while plans for putting in place a liberalised visa regime between India and China look elusive.
Sharing of water between the two Asian giants has also been a contentious issue for long. China has started developing Tibet's water resources on the Yarlung Zangbo River – which flows into India as Brahmaputra -- and the first unit at the Zangmu hydropower station is scheduled to start operation in 2014.
Hua said the two countries have had six rounds of expert level talks on the water issue since 2007 and China pays attention to cooperate with India on this matter. She said China has played a very important role in disaster and flood prevention.
“During Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India, the two sides issued a joint statement which stipulated that they will further enhance cooperation on trans-border rivers,” she said.
On a question on China’s involvement in projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Hua reiterated the country’s position that disputes between New Delhi and Islamabad should be handled through friendly consultation.
“China’s position on the Kashmir issue is consistent. We believe that this is an issue between India and Pakistan. We hope that the two sides can properly handle this issue through friendly consultation,” Hua said.