China on Monday played down the festering border dispute with India saying that the goals of development, mutual cooperation and inclusive growth should be the broad targets for the two emerging countries to achieve.
The longstanding border dispute was on the agenda during the first day of talks between national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and Special Representative Dai Bingguo in Beijing.
A Chinese foreign ministry official also said that the issue of the controversial map on the new Chinese passports – and India’s tit-for- tat response -- wasn’t discussed on Monday as it did not “deserve playing up.”
Menon held lengthy talks with Dai and a short interaction with foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, on Monday.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Menon will be meeting one of the members of the all-powerful new Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Politburo on Tuesday.
Diplomats pointed out that the talks should not be seen as part of the ongoing rounds of discussion between the two countries on the disputed borders in Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin. Rather, the interactions between Menon and Chinese officials will cover “broader” contours of the relation between the two countries.
Briefing the Indian media, a Chinese diplomat said the border issue was discussed between the two high-ranking officials but the talks between the two special representatives (SR) were also about laying groundwork for future cooperation.
“In the past 10 years, both (countries) have made great efforts to preserve and safeguard peace and tranquility (on the borders). Peace and tranquility do not come easy,” foreign ministry official, Qin Gang, said adding that the meeting had laid a good groundwork for resolving the boundary issue in the future.
The Menon-Dai talks were held at one of the many plush buildings of the reverential Diaoyutai State Guest House amid elegant lawns and gentle canals.
Inside, the warmth of the talks – win-win situation, development, friendly neighbours, increasing trade, convergence of views etc – apparently held off the Beijing chill on the outside.
So, if the border issue touched upon, the passport issue was sidestepped.
Qin denied that the related issue of the controversial map that China has begun to issue in its new biometric passport from May was discussed on Monday. The map on the Chinese passport shows, for the first time, the disputed areas with India as part of China. India was angry enough to retaliate last month by embossing its visas on Chinese passports with the Indian version of the map – also a first.
“This is not an issue that deserves playing up. Our position has been fully explained to all parties including India. We will ensure smooth, convenient travel between the two countries. It’s not targeted against any particular country,” Qin said.
When asked why the map was issued in the first place, the official said there was no “particular purpose or agenda.”
Earlier, Dai said Menon was among the first leaders to be welcomed to China after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
“I'm sure through your visit the Indian side will have a better sense of China after the 18th Party Congress and China’s foreign policy hereafter and how best to join force to further promote the development of China-India relations,” Dai said.
“Our bilateral relationship has made new headway this year. China and India are large developing countries. We hope in the new year we can further push forward our relationship. We hope there can be fresh and important progress both in the bilateral context and in the multilateral arenas,” foreign minister, Jiechi said, adding that China would like to work together with India to promote shared interests of developing countries.
On his part, Menon said: “We have over the last few years ensured a smooth, steady and very positive development of our bilateral relations. We shared some ideas on how we can develop that further. We also spoke about what kind of steps we could be looking at. I also transmitted a message from PM of India to general secretry Xi expressing congratulations on the successful conclusion of the Party Congress.”
Chinese state councilor Dai Bingguo also said that bilateral ties between China and India should not be affected by "noise," calling for further cooperation for common development.
“The two sides should have a clear idea about some parties' intentions of undermining bilateral ties. They should also remember that there is more consensus than dispute, and more cooperation than competition, between China and India,” Dai was quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
As advocates of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, both China and India have sufficient wisdom and capabilities to handle bilateral ties, make more efforts for mutual benefit and prevent "noise" from diverting friendly cooperation and common development, he added.
Every step forward in the two countries' development as well as bilateral ties will contribute to the peace, security and cooperation in the entire world, Dai said.