Specific issues shouldn’t define ties, China tells India

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar had in talks with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in March and May, underlined the importance of peace on LAC as a prerequisite for normalcy

Updated - July 16, 2023 12:08 pm IST

Published - July 15, 2023 06:02 pm IST

China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi attends during meeting in Jakarta on July 12, 2023.

China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi attends during meeting in Jakarta on July 12, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

In a reflection of continuing differences in how India and China view taking ties forward, Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi told External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Jakarta that “specific issues” shouldn’t “define the overall relationship”.

In Friday’s talks, which the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday had been held at India’s request, Mr. Jaishankar said both sides had “discussed outstanding issues related to peace & tranquillity in border areas.” “Our conversation also covered EAS/ARF [ASEAN Regional Forum] agenda, BRICS and the Indo-Pacific,” the Minister said in a message on Twitter. Mr. Jaishankar had also, during bilateral talks with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in March and May, underlined the importance of peace on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as a prerequisite for normalcy in the broader relationship, and called for China to take forward disengagement in two remaining friction areas. 

Also Read | China pitched four tents in ‘buffer zone’ in Ladakh, says councillor 

The Chinese readout of the talks, released on Saturday, said Mr. Wang, who heads the Central Commission on Foreign Affairs, “expressed that President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi have reached an important consensus on stabilising China-India relations” and “the two sides should take actions to this end, adhere to the correct direction of bilateral relations, grasp the general trend of world development, and promote the stabilisation and improvement of China-India relations.”

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar meets with Director Wang Yi of the Office of the CPC Central Commission for Foreign Affairs on Friday.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar meets with Director Wang Yi of the Office of the CPC Central Commission for Foreign Affairs on Friday. | Photo Credit: ANI

“The two sides should support each other, rather than consume and distrust each other,” he added. “We should focus our energy and resources on each other’s development, improving people’s livelihood and accelerating revitalisation without letting specific issues define the overall relationship.”

On the border issue, he said “it is hoped that the Indian side will meet China halfway and find a solution to the border issue that is acceptable to both sides.”

India’s view on the relationship is starkly different. New Delhi has seen a sharp divergence between China’s public statements on “meeting halfway” and “stabilising” ties on the one hand, and on the other, the Chinese military’s hardline stance in slow moving negotiations and refusal to restore the status quo even while beefing up forward infrastructure.

Also Read | Should the government put out a white paper on Ladakh?

Both sides have disengaged in five friction areas, but so far, in India’s view, the Chinese side had made “unreasonable” demands in the last two areas in Demchok and Depsang. In April and May 2020, the Chinese military mobilised along the LAC and carried out multiple transgressions to unilaterally enforce China’s claims in several areas. Relations have since been in a state of deep freeze.

Another emerging sticking point in ties involves regulatory moves taken by India aimed at Chinese companies, including raids on several Chinese smartphone firms, a topic that has recently been given wide coverage in the State media in China.

Mr. Wang raised the issue in Friday’s talks, and said China was “highly concerned about the recent restrictive measures India has taken against Chinese companies.”

“We hope the Indian side will provide a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies,” he was quoted as saying in the Foreign Ministry’s statement.

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