J-K decision an internal issue, says Jaishankar in China talks
India told China on Monday that revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcating the state into two union territories was an “internal matter” and the changes did not impact existing borders with either China or Pakistan.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar, who is in Beijing for talks, told Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was a provision of the Indian Constitution and “…decided by Indians when they made the Constitution”.
“The issue related to changes in a temporary provision of the Constitution of India and was the sole prerogative of the country,” Jaishankar told Indian journalists in a late-night interaction after talks with Wang Yi and Vice President Wang Qishan.
Jaishankar said he told Chinese officials there was no implication of the change “…for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. India was not raising any additional territorial claims.”
On Tuesday last week, the Lok Sabha effectively revoked Article 370, ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and passed a bill bifurcating it into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh.
“The legislative measures were aimed at promoting better governance and socio-economic development,” he said, referring to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s move on Jammu and Kashmir.
Jaishankar said the future of India-China ties depended on mutual sensitivity to each other’s core concerns and it was vital to “not let differences become disputes”.
The minister added that as far as the question of the boundary between India and China was concerned, the two sides had agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement on the 2005 Political Parametres and Guiding Principles, a mechanism that started talks between the designated special representatives (SR) of the two countries to resolve the question.
Jaishankar said Wang had raised concerns about the “rising tensions” between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the changes. He said the changes had no “…bearing on Pakistan as it was an internal matter. It did not impact the Line of Control (LoC).”
“Where India-Pakistan relations are concerned, China should base its assessment on realities,” Jaishankar told Wang.
The Indian minister also said that the “…future if India-China relationship will obviously, depend on mutual sensitivity to each other’s core concerns”.
“It is natural, both as neighbours and large developing economies that there would be issues in our ties. Properly managing differences is therefore vital,” Jaishankar – who was the Indian ambassador to China and was posted in Beijing between 2009 and 2013 – told his Chinese counterpart.
Jaishankar held three separate meetings with Wang on Monday in Beijing that concluded with the second meeting of the India-China High-Level Mechanism (HLM) on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges.
Beijing had earlier raised concerns about the developments in J&K, especially because its all-weather ally, Pakistan, sent its foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi last week to discuss the issue with Wang.
China responded with two statements after India announced its decisions on J&K last week.
In one, Beijing objected to the formation of Ladakh as a Union Territory, saying it undermined its territorial sovereignty.
In the second statement, it expressed “serious concern” about the current situation in the region and said “relevant sides need to exercise restraint and act prudently”.
On Monday, Wang referred to India-Pakistan tensions and told Jaishankar that India should play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability.
“When it comes to the regional tensions between India and Pakistan and possible ramifications we follow these developments very closely. We hope that India would also play a constructive role for regional peace and stability,” Wang told Jaishankar.
At a speech later in the day, Wang said: “Well, there are some differences between our two countries. We don’t shy away from these differences. We exchanged views on these issues in a candid manner.”
“Regarding recent tensions between India and Pakistan, we made clear China’s concerns. On issues revolving on China’s sovereignty and vital interests, we also stated China’s principled position,” Wang added.
The Indian minister said India is looking forward to the second informal meeting between the leaders of the two countries in India this year and is willing to make sure the meeting is a full success.