China and India have recently reached understanding on proper settlement of the incidents in the western section of the China-India boundary through consultation.
Border troops of the two sides have now pulled back from the area of stand-off at the Tiannan River Valley area/Daulat Beg Oldie sector by the Indian side. I believe that our two countries have the ability and wisdom to manage any differences or problems between us as long as we keep the larger interest of bilateral relations in mind, and jointly work on the differences or problems through friendly consultations with a constructive and cooperative approach.
It is my view that China and India have five basics to properly handle the border-related differences.
First, both sides have reached consensus. The two governments have all along held that properly handling border-related issues and maintaining peace and tranquillity in the border areas serves the fundamental interests of both sides, and plays a vital role in the overall development of bilateral relations. Both sides have realised that the final settlement of border issues requires patience. Pending that, the two sides should steadily push forward the negotiation process through equal and friendly consultation and continue to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas so as not to let the border issues affect the overall development of bilateral relations.
Second, both sides have the willingness. Leaders of both countries have expressed strong political desire for the early settlement of the boundary question by including it as one of “outstanding issues” in the “Ten-pronged Strategy” they committed themselves to in 2006. Since 2003, the Special Representatives of China and India on the boundary question have held 15 rounds of talks, and made positive progress. The two sides have signed the Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of China-India Boundary Question, and reached an 18-point consensus on the resolution framework.
Third, both sides have the experience. China and India are important neighbours sharing a border which has yet been formally demarcated. Even though both sides hold different perceptions of the Line of Actual Control, for a long time, under the effective control of the two governments, peace and tranquillity has been maintained in the border areas with no misfire accident. Thus, both sides have accumulated a wealth of experience to properly handle border-related issues, which also highlights the maturity of China-India relations.
Fourth, both sides have means. As of now, China and India have set up border-related mechanisms including the Special Representatives Talks, working mechanism for consultation and coordination over the border affairs, defence and security consultation, border flag meetings, etc, which prove to be effective platforms established with joint efforts by two countries. Meanwhile, smooth communication has been kept through the diplomatic channels. Giving full play to the role of these platforms and channels not only helps solve the border-related issues, but contributes to maintenance of peace and stability in border areas and promotion of bilateral relations.
Fifth, both sides have confidence. At present, the comprehensive development of China-India relations has created favourable conditions for solving border-related issues. Both countries hope to maintain the hard-won sound momentum of healthy and stable development of China-India relations. China and India kept smooth communication and had a candid and in-depth discussion on the incident this time. The end of the current stand-off further strengthened the confidence of both sides in the early settlement of border-related issues. I believe that as long as the two sides bear in mind the fundamental interests and well-being of our two peoples, and unswervingly adhere to the process of peaceful negotiations, we will be able to find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question.
Sensitive and complex
The China-India boundary question is a problem left over from history. It is complex and sensitive, with a bearing on the feelings of the two peoples. Both countries have made tremendous efforts for an early solution to this issue. Finding a mutually acceptable agreement requires patience and perseverance, and more importantly needs a friendly and favourable atmosphere. As stressed by the Government of India, a peaceful periphery is essential for India to achieve her multifarious developmental goals. Both China and India cherish the current peaceful, friendly and stable evolvement of the situation, and no one can afford the liability of the reversal of history.
As the saying goes: “Good fences make good neighbours.” To strengthen good-neighbourly and friendly cooperation with India is China’s strategic choice and established policy which will not change. Both sides should proceed from a strategic height and a holistic perspective, hold the spirit of peace and friendship, equal consultation, mutual respect and mutual understanding, stick to the consensus that has been reached, maintain and make good use of existing mechanisms, continue to promote the process of the framework negotiation, and strive for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question at an early date.
(Wei Wei is the Chinese Ambassador to India.)