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India, China move to maritime cooperation

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi ahead of a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. Mr. Jiechi is in India on a two-day official visit.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi ahead of a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. Mr. Jiechi is in India on a two-day official visit.   | Photo Credit: Mustafa Quraishi

India and China have decided to open a new chapter in bilateral cooperation by agreeing to undertake joint operations against pirates and sharing technological knowhow on seabed research.

The maritime cooperation proposals were made by visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and welcomed by his counterpart S.M. Krishna during an extensive round of talks here on Thursday.

The dialogue on the proposalswill be taken forward at a multi-ministerial meeting as is the case with the other confidence building measure for the land border — the Mechanism on Coordination and Consultation on Border Affairs, which will hold its first meeting in Beijing in mid-March.

The first proposal seeks to involve the Coast Guards, the navies and air forces in action against pirates. The modalities will be worked out by a joint group that will include the two Foreign Offices, besides the Ministries of Defence, Shipping and Oceanography.

The talks also touched an area of acute anxiety to the Chinese — the possibility of protesting Tibetans stealing the limelight during the month-end BRICS summit here at a time of heightened tensions in the Chinese province.

Sensitive issue

While Mr. Yang did not mention Tibetans — he preferred to call them anti-Chinese protesters — India pointed out that it encouraged a vibrant polity but does not approve of demonstrations against foreign countries.

China had cancelled high-level border talks in November last after India declined to withdraw permission for an international Buddhist conference planned around the same time.

Mr. Yang's second proposal — sharing technological knowhow on seabed research falling outside the domain of coastal countries — is aimed at dousing India's apprehensions after Beijing was permitted by the International Seabed Authority to explore in south-west Indian Ocean.

India also raised the issue of two traders illegally detained by businessmen at Yiwu, near Shanghai. Mr. Yang promised that he would look into the issue and ensure justice was done.

Highly placed sources put a great deal of stress on the proposal of joint operations against pirates, especially after China and India exchanged sharp statements over ONGC taking up exploration in the disputed South China Sea.

Simultaneously, the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism also met here.

The BRICS summit was extensively discussed, especially the proposal to set up a special bank for developing countries.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2020 4:35:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-china-move-to-maritime-cooperation/article2951373.ece

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