Border dispute objective reality, should be put at right position in ties: China

  • The phone call was the first formal contact between Jaishankar and Wang since they met on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Moscow on September 10 last year.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met for nearly two hours on the sidelines of the SCO meet in Russia last year. (PTI)
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met for nearly two hours on the sidelines of the SCO meet in Russia last year. (PTI)
Published on Feb 26, 2021 07:45 AM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis, Beijing

The border dispute between India and China is a reality, should be taken seriously but should also be placed at an appropriate position in bilateral ties, Chinese state councilor and foreign minister, Wang Yi has told external affairs minister, S Jaishankar.

The two top ministers spoke over phone on Thursday to review the troops disengagement process in the eastern Ladakh area near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The two sides have agreed to set up a hotline for better communication in a timely manner, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on the phone conversation released early on Friday.

Wang was quoted as saying in the statement that border disputes are an objective reality and should be given sufficient attention and taken seriously. However, border issues are not the whole of China-India relations and should be placed in an appropriate position in bilateral relations, he said.

The statement quoted Wang as saying that the recent disengagement of frontline Chinese and Indian troops in the Pangong Lake area had clearly eased the situation on the ground.

Wang told Jaishankar that both sides must cherish the current hard-won situation, jointly consolidate the existing results, maintain the momentum of consultation and further ease the situation.

Wang said that both sides should improve the border control mechanism, advance the border negotiation process, continue to accumulate and enhance mutual trust, and achieve peace and tranquility in the border area.

Jaishankar was quoted in the statement as saying that the recent disengagement of the two militaries in the Pangong Lake area is an important result of the two sides earnestly implementing the Moscow consensus of the two foreign ministers.

India hopes to strengthen dialogue and consultation with China to achieve complete disengagement in other regions as soon as possible and promote the continuous cooling of the border situation between the two countries, Jaishankar was quoted as saying.

Blaming India for the nine-month military standoff in eastern Ladakh, Wang said India’s policies towards China had changed in the last year and “pragmatic cooperation” between the two countries had been affected.

The Chinese minister was quoted as saying that bad ties were not in the interest of the two countries, and that past experiences show that highlighting differences will not help resolve problems and would also erode the foundation of mutual trust.

“Both parties agreed to establish a communication hotline to exchange opinions in a timely manner,” the statement said.

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The phone call was the first formal contact between Jaishankar and Wang since they met on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Moscow on September 10 last year, and it came days after India and China pulled back frontline troops from strategic heights around Pangong Lake along with armoured vehicles and artillery.

“Spoke to State Councillor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi this afternoon. Discussed the implementation of our Moscow Agreement and reviewed the status of disengagement,” Jaishankar tweeted, without giving details.

Asked about the situation on the LAC at a regular news briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: “Both sides view the smooth and successful completion of disengagement in the north and south bank [of Pangong Lake] as a significant first step as this forms a basis for resolution of remaining issues so as to achieve the eventual goal of complete disengagement in all friction areas.”

“The two sides have agreed to work towards a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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