Recent “setbacks” in India-China ties do not serve the interests of both countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday, calling on ties “to move forward on the right track”.
Speaking to reporters at his annual press conference on the sidelines of the on–going session of the National People’s Congress or Parliament in Beijing, Mr. Wang said both sides should not let boundary issues ‘interfere’ with the rest of the relationship.
“The boundary question is left over from history,” he said. “China has long advocated managing differences through equal–footed consultations, actively seeking a fair and equitable settlement while not letting it affect or interfere with the bigger picture of bilateral cooperation. I am talking about issues relating to the boundary and territory. I think people should understand this.”
Mr. Wang acknowledged that “relations encountered setbacks in recent years, which do not serve the fundamental interest of the two countries and people” and called for “relations to move forward on the right track to bring more benefits to our peoples and make greater contribution to the region and the world”.
“When our two countries achieve stability and prosperity and live in peace and harmony, global peace and prosperity will have a solid foundation,” he said. “As an Indian proverb goes, help your brother’s boat across and your own will reach the shore. We hope India will work with China to uphold the strategic consensus that the two countries pose no threat to each other and offer development opportunities to each other, continue to build mutual trust, avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation so that we will be partners for mutual success rather than adversaries for mutual attrition.”
The Chinese Foreign Minister said “some forces have always sought to stoke tensions between China and India and divisions between regions. “Their attempts have put more and more people in reflection and on alert,” he said. “More people have come to realise that for China and India, both major countries with over 1 billion populations, only by staying independent can we firmly grasp our own destiny and realise our goals of rejuvenation and development.”
Mr. Wang appeared to be referring to the U.S., which he blamed on Monday for creating ‘blocs’ in the region. Many Chinese analysts have pointed the finger at Washington for fomenting tension between China and its neighbours.
Indian officials have underlined that the cause of the tensions was China’s mobilisation of troops in April 2020 and multiple transgressions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC). They have also said peace on the border is a ‘prerequisite’ for cooperation in other areas and that China has not yet offered an explanation for its moves.
Talks to complete the disengagement process on the LAC have been slow–moving. Differences remain in Hot Springs, Demchok and Depsang, and both sides are working out dates for the next round of military–level talks to complete disengagement at Hot Springs.
With the process as yet incomplete, the prospect of de–escalation in the near term to reduce the presence of thousands of troops of both sides still deployed in forward areas appears even more remote.