Taking a lesson from the recently-ended three-week faceoff between the two armies, India and China must take the second step towards resolving the border issue as quickly as possible, a senior Chinese Government official has counselled.

The two sides have already settled the guiding principles and agreed on the political parameters on the border question. They now need to press ahead with the framework for negotiations in accordance with the agreed political parameters and guiding principles so as to seek a solution acceptable to both sides, said the official, speaking to the media six days ahead of Li Keqiang’s first overseas visit as Premier.

The first step was completed in 2005 and Special Representatives from both sides have been meeting intermittently to reach an agreement on a framework. The third and final stage will involve the specifics of delineating the border.

‘Isolated incident’

The Chinese official termed the three-week faceoff between two platoon-sized troops that ended this month as “isolated” and opted to describe the gains that accrued rather than explain from the Chinese perspective why it happened.

It was encouraging, he said, that the timely deployment of the joint border dispute resolution mechanism and opening of several communication channels had stopped a local issue spreading to vitiate bilateral relations in other spheres. At the same time the border question must not be put on the back burner, he advised.

The official said there were two options: either let the situation spin out of control, cause frictions and drag down the entire bilateral relationship, or keep channels of communications open as was done this time. “We did quite a good job by using the second option. Think about it,” he said.

The Chinese official, here on a familiarisation visit and meet his Indian Foreign Ministry counterparts, felt both sides could make better progress on the border question provided they maintained the momentum in bilateral ties.

“We need to redouble our efforts to push forward the framework for negotiations so that we can reach a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution at an early date,” said Qin Gang, Spokesperson and Director-General of the Information Department in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, Mr. Qin, at an interaction with the media, cautioned that “while looking at the important issue of boundary, we have to bear in mind the whole picture of our developing relations. And bear in mind the interest and benefits of good and cooperative China-India relations.”

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