India, China should create ‘enabling conditions’ to settle border dispute, says Wang Yi

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said India and China needed “to create enabling conditions for the settlement” of the boundary dispute, even as he reiterated China’s view that “the rights and wrongs” of last year’s crisis were clear.

His comments came at his annual press meet along the sidelines of the on-going convening in Beijing of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the ceremonial Communist Party-controlled legislature. Mr. Wang addressed China’s relations with the United States, the EU, Japan and India among other issues.

Also read: Explained | The disengagement plan between India and China along the LAC

“The China-India relationship is essentially about how the world’s two largest developing countries get along and pursue development and rejuvenation together,” he said to a question on the on-going disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Mr. Wang reiterated the statement he made during a February 25 call with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar that “the boundary dispute, an issue left from history, is not whole story of the China-India relationship”. “It is important that the two sides manage disputes properly and, at the same time, expand and enhance cooperation to create enabling conditions for the settlement of the issue,” he told reporters.

Also read: India, China to push for solution of remaining issues on LAC

“The rights and wrongs of what happened in the border area last year are clear, so are the stakes involved. It again proves that initiating confrontation will not solve the problem. Returning to peaceful negotiation is the right way forward. China’s position is very clear. We are committed to settling the boundary dispute through dialogue and consultation. At the same time, we are resolved to safeguard our sovereign rights and interests.”

India has conveyed a different message, underlining that without full disengagement along the LAC, and then de-escalation, restoring normalcy in the relationship would not be possible.

Also read: India waited till China pulled back its troops

The Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday complete disengagement “would allow both sides to consider de-escalation of forces in Eastern Ladakh as that alone will lead to the restoration of peace and tranquillity and provide conditions for progress in our bilateral relationship.” 

Since a February 20 meeting of the military commanders that followed disengagement being completed on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake, there has been no official word on the progress in the Gogra-Hot Springs area and in Demchok. There are also long-running tensions involving the blocking of patrols in Depsang, which officials said pre-dated the current crisis. De-escalation also remains, with troops still present in large numbers in depth areas beyond the LAC.

Also read: India, China continue to maintain close communication: MEA on Ladakh standoff

Mr. Wang said “it falls on both sides to solidify the existing consensus, strengthen dialogue and communication, and improve various management mechanisms to jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border area”. “In the year ahead, we hope India will work with China to truly deliver on the important common understanding reached by our leaders that both are not threats to each other, but opportunities for each other’s development,” he said.

The Chinese Foreign Minister said “on many important issues, our positions are the same or close, due to similar national realities”. “Therefore, China and India are each other’s friends and partners , not threats or rivals,” he said. “The two sides need to help each other succeed instead of undercutting each other. We should intensify cooperation instead of harbouring suspicions of each other.” 

“As two ancient civilisations next door to each other and as two major emerging economies with each over 1 billion people, we have broad common interests and tremendous potential for cooperation,” Mr. Wang said. “Domestically, we both face the historic mission of bettering people’s lives and accelerating growth. Internationally, the world expects us both to safeguard common interests of developing countries and advance multipolarity in the world,” he added, calling on both sides “to make great contributions for the advent of the Asian century.” 

On ties with the U.S., Mr. Wang said China hoped Washington, under the new Biden administration, “will move in the same direction and remove all unreasonable restrictions on bilateral cooperation as early as possible, and not create new obstacles”.

On the military coup in Myanmar, he said China hoped for the democratic transition to continue, but refrained from criticising the military leadership as he pledged support for “the respect of Myanmar’s sovereignty”, in a veiled criticism of the U.S. trade sanctions, and underlined China’s “commitment to relations with Myanmar”.

Asked about China supplying its vaccines overseas, he said 17 vaccines were undergoing trials — five have already been approved for use — and Chinese vaccines had been exported to 43 countries, donated to 69 nations and authorised by 60 countries so far for use.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 12:13:27 AM |

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