Beijing emphasises the need for both countries to abide by bilateral pacts4 min read . Updated: 30 Sep 2020, 08:56 PM IST
India on its part said that the two countries had agreed on the need to strengthen communication especially between the ground commanders
NEW DELHI: A day after stating that it recognises a 1959 claim line as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) boundary between India and China, Beijing seemed to do a U turn on Wednesday, underlining the need for both countries to abide by bilateral pacts, take steps to ease tensions at the borders and maintain consultation and dialogue at the military and diplomatic levels.
India on its part said that the two countries had agreed on the need to strengthen communication especially between the ground commanders.
Both delegations came out with their own statements after the 19th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) – ie discussions between delegations headed by senior diplomat Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) from the Indian foreign ministry and Hong Liang, Director General of the Boundary and Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Talks were “frank" and “in depth," the Chinese statement said adding that the two countries had agreed to “earnestly" implement the agreements reached between the two foreign ministers of India and China at a meeting in Moscow on 10 September. They also agreed to “strictly abide by the border affairs agreement signed by the two countries, “ the statement said. The two delegations also agreed that neither side should take any steps that would “complicate" the situation. They also concurred on the need to keep up communication through military and diplomatic channels, the statement said.
The Chinese statement on Wednesday seems to indicate that Beijing had reversed tack and would adhere to pacts signed with India from 1993 to 2005. On Tuesday, Beijing had said that it had recognized an LAC proposed in 1959. New Delhi had rejected it as a unilaterally defined boundary it had never accepted.
Analysts like Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese Studies at the New Delhi based Jawaharlal Nehru, called the Chinese change of stance “welcome" but cautioned that Beijing could revert to recognizing the 1959 LAC again. “It is difficult to say they (Beijing) will not revert to this position again," he said.
Ties between the two countries have spiraled to new lows after India detected multiple intrusions into Indian territory by Chinese troops in May.
The Indian statement concurred with the Chinese one stating that the two delegations had “frank" and “detailed" discussions.
“The two sides reviewed the current situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas…The two sides attached importance to the meetings between the two Defence Ministers and the two Foreign Ministers held earlier this month," the Indian statement said referring to two separate meetings between the defence ministers of the two countries on 4 September and the foreign ministers on 10 September. “They also noted that the agreement between the two Foreign Ministers should be sincerely implemented to ensure disengagement at all the friction points along the LAC," the Indian statement said.
The two delegations evaluated the outcome of last week’s military commanders’ talks and “emphasized the need to implement the steps outlined in the joint press release" so as to “avoid misunderstandings and to maintain stability on the ground. In this context, the need to strengthen communication, especially between the ground commanders, was emphasized by both sides," the Indian statement said.
“Both sides agreed to continue to maintain close consultations at the diplomatic and military level. In this regard, they agreed that the next (7th) round of the meeting of Senior Commanders should be held at an early date so that both sides can work towards early and complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC in accordance with the existing bilateral agreement and protocols, and fully restore peace and tranquility," the Indian statement said.
Separately, in a speech to mark the 71st National Day of China, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong struck a conciliatory note, noting that the year 2020 marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and India.
“China-India relations go far beyond the bilateral scope and have great significance to the region and the world at large," he said.
“Whenever the situation gets difficult, it is all the more important to ensure the stability of the overall relationship and preserve mutual trust," Sun said adding that “expanding convergence and cooperation is the key."
“At present, fighting the epidemic, reviving the economy and improving people’s livelihood are the three most urgent tasks for us," the ambassador said adding “we can expand convergence of interests, learn from each other and promote cooperation."
In an oblique reference to the border issue, Sun said: “Properly handling differences is the right way. The current situation in the border areas serves no one’s interests. We should implement the leaders’ consensus on not allowing differences to become disputes. We should follow up the five-point consensus reached by the two foreign ministers to push forward quick disengagement and de-escalation. China is committed to seeking a solution through dialogue and negotiation, and restoring peace and tranquility in the border areas at an early date."
India and China should “resolve relevant issues in a peaceful manner. We should put differences in a proper place in bilateral relations. We need to remain rational and calm, and resist the talk of "confrontation" and "decoupling", so that we will not lose our way due to any individual incident or issue," he said referring to India looking to limit it economic interaction with Beijing in the aftermath of tensions along the border.
Noting that China and India were neighbors who could no defy geography and move away, the ambassador said:"That is why living in harmony is the only correct choice. We look forward to working with the Indian side to ensure the stability of the overall relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective."
“As long as the two sides adhere to this common goal and move in the right direction, China-India relations will eventually disperse the clouds and get back on the right track," he added.