China on Thursday said it welcomed a move by Indian and Chinese officials to set up a joint consultation mechanism to handle disputes in border areas, and stressed it would “strictly abide” by agreements to maintain peace along the disputed border.
Chinese officials said the two countries were currently holding talks over the content of the joint mechanism, which the Foreign Ministry here said would handle any affairs that “have a bearing on peace and tranquility”. Chinese and Indian officials had reached “a principled consensus” to set up a border affairs coordination mechanism during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the BRICS summit in Sanya, in southern Hainan province, in April.
“At present, the two sides are having in-depth communication over specific matters, such as content of the mechanism and operating methods of the mechanism at a working level,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said. “The mechanism will handle, at the diplomatic level, major border affairs that have a bearing on peace and tranquility in border areas.”
Ms. Jiang also rejected reports in India earlier this week that Chinese troops had dismantled an old Indian Army bunker at Chumar, near Leh in Ladakh.
The reports were also denied by Indian officials. A Northern Command Army spokesperson told PTI there were no reports of destruction of bunkers or of a Chinese helicopter entering Indian airspace. Officials, however, said the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) was not clearly demarcated in the area, and there were differing perceptions between both sides.
The border mechanism, officials said, would be used to handle such disputes that arise as a result of differing perceptions over the LAC.
Asked about the reports, Ms. Jiang said China “strictly abides by agreements and the spirit of consensus reached by two sides, and has never taken action that jeopardises peace and tranquility in border areas”.
“Our position,” she added, “is consistent and clear. We hold that [the dispute] should be resolved fairly through consultations on an equal footing, and seek a solution acceptable to both. Before the final settlement, both sides should safeguard peace and tranquility in border areas so that the border question will not affect the normal development of bilateral relations.”