India, China agree to advance ongoing boundary negotiations

President Pranab Mukherjee with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday.

President Pranab Mukherjee with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Cordial and clear discussions on sensitive issues marked India-China talks today during President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Beijing but no significant change in divergent positions was realised.

Meetings with President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and National Peoples’ Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang on Thursday marked a busy third of a four day visit by Mr. Mukherjee to China. The common emphases by both countries in these meetings was on the need to take the relationship forward by expanding areas of convergence and managing areas of difference, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar told a group of journalists today.

Just before Mr. Mukherjee’s visit, Chinese spokespersons had voiced opposition to India joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group without signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Accession of a new member to the group is decided by the members on the basis of consensus.

Mr. Mukherjee’s delegation had apprised their Chinese counterparts about India’s aims to rapidly expand its civilian nuclear programme in line with the country’s energy needs and for China to play a positive and facilitative role in creating a predictable international environment in this regard. Mr. Mukherjee had also asked Mr. Xi to give this matter “personal attention” ,Mr Jaishankar said.

Xiao Qian, Director-General of Asian region in China’s ministry of foreign affairs, briefing the press following the meeting also said that the two leaders “agreed to strengthen cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy”. Mr. Jaishankar added that two sides agreed that concerned officials should stay in touch on the matter.

Mr. Mukherjee led a delegation to meet up with Mr. Xi after receiving a grand welcome in a ceremony held at the Great Hall of Peace in Beijing. The two leaders discussed among other issues, ways to strengthen cooperation in “investment, trade and tourism” with the Chinese President promising “practical cooperation” in areas such as railways, industrial zones, new energy and even possibilities in space cooperation. Chinese officials had also evinced interest in the flagship schemes such as Digital India and Make in India and in possibilities of investment in the Smart Cities project.

Specifically, China has also agreed to accommodate more Indian tourists (seven batches this year) to visit Kailash Mansarovar via the Nathu La pass into Tibet. The two leaders also agreed to advance the ongoing boundary negotiations under the special representatives mechanism, and at the same time resolved to take actions to maintain peace and tranquillity in the boundary regions.

Mr. Jaishankar said that the Indian delegation had conveyed to the Chinese about the need to eliminate international and cross-border terrorism and that there was no distinction (good versus bad) in terrorism. While the two countries discussed counter-terrorism efforts and cooperation under UN and BRICS frameworks, the specific issue of China’s support for sanctions against the Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar was not discussed, Mr. Xiao said.

The two Presidents also agreed to support each other’s regional and international initiatives — the G20 summit which is scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China in September 2016 and the BRICS summit in October 2016 in Goa. The Indian delegation also thanked China for its support for India’s inclusion in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Mukherjee reiterated the need to enhance people-to-people ties (“people centric partnership”) between India and China, a theme that he has harping on in his trip. He was addressing students and teachers at Beijing's prestigious Peking University.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2020 6:44:03 PM |

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