China has backed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on the Sino-Indian border issue but, in response to a question, observed that the status of Arunachal Pradesh continues to remain a bone of contention between the two sides.
“We have taken note of remarks made by Prime Minister Modi. China has always taken a positive attitude on the China-India boundary question,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
Ms. Hua’s response comes on the eve of the Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD), which is expected to consider new confidence-building measures to impart stability to the frontiers.
During his interview, Mr. Modi had said: “Insofar as the border is concerned, the most important point right now is that peace and tranquility must not be disturbed. That would create conditions for us to arrive at a mutually-acceptable solution. This is a complicated and old problem and needs to be addressed with care and with deliberation. President Xi [Jinping] also shares my optimism.”
In her response, Ms. Hua observed: “Last September while visiting India, President Xi Jinping said publicly that China is confident to resolve the boundary question together with the Indian side though friendly negotiations and maintaining peace and tranquility of the border area.
“It is a common responsibility [and] common aspiration of India and China to resolve the boundary question. We have made enormous efforts to this end,” she added, highlighting the 18 rounds of Special Representatives talks that have been held to “exchange views”.
“Progress has been made in this regard. We are willing to work with India to press ahead with the negotiations process to reach a comprehensive and reasonable solution that is acceptable to both the parties”.
But when asked to comment on the extension of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Arunachal Pradesh, Ms. Hua said that, “There is huge dispute in the eastern border of China-India border. This is undeniable fact.”
“China always holds consistent and clear position on the China-India boundary question. The two sides should make joint efforts to maintain peace tranquillity of the border area and create favourable conditions for the negotiation of the boundary question.”
Analysts say that the Chinese side has focussed on the border stability, instead of an early resolution of the boundary question.
“At the moment the boundary negotiations are in the process of building up small, positive steps,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said during a recent meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, emphasising Beijing’s incremental approach to resolve the issue.
“It is like climbing a mountain. The going is tough, that is only because we are on the way up,” he added.