China and India are “friends and partners, not threats or rivals” and should “help each other succeed instead of undercutting each other”, said Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the China’s Parliament, National People’s Congress, on Sunday, 7 March.
Wang Yi remarked that the two ancient civilisations of India and China are emerging economies with over one billion people and have common interests, as well as tremendous potential for cooperation. Wang Yi opined that the two countries have similar positions on many important issues due to “similar national realities”.
“The two sides need to help each other succeed instead of undercutting each other; we should intensify cooperation instead of harbouring suspicion at each other. The boundary dispute, an issue left from history, is not the whole story of the China-India relationship”.Wang Yi, China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister
Wang added, “It is important that the two sides manage the dispute properly and at the same time, expand and enhance cooperation to create enabling conditions for the settlement of the issue”.
Wang’s remarks come days after Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the disengagement of Chinese troops in the Pangong Lake area was a significant step forward, and that it was not in the interests of either sides to prolong the issue.
Shrivastava had told the media that both sides have agreed to remain in touch and are to set up a hotline, details of which will be worked out through subsequent diplomatic channels.
‘China’s Position Is Very Clear’
Wang Yi, without directly referring to the LAC standoff said, “The rights and wrongs of what happened in the border area last year are clear. So are the stakes involved. What happened again proves that initiating confrontation will not solve the problem, and that returning to peaceful negotiation is the right way forward”.
India and China have been engaged in ten rounds of diplomatic and military talks for disengagement after tensions began rising along the high-altitude border in April 2020. The situation escalated when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a physical clash in mid-June in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
Wang Yi did not approach the recent disengagement of frontline troops in the Pangong Lake area but said, “China’s position is very clear: We are committed to settling the boundary dispute through dialogue and consultation. At the same time, we are resolved to safeguard our sovereign rights and interests”.
Wang Yi reiterated that it was on both sides to strengthen communication and dialogue and “improve the various management mechanisms to jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area”.
He concluded noting that both countries must work together on a common understanding that they are not threats but opportunities for each other’s development.
‘Both Sides Must Quickly Resolve Issue’
Recently, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had a conversation over the phone for 75 minutes with Wang Yi on 25 February, with the two discussing the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh as well as issues related to the overall India-China relations.
While noting the completion of disengagement in the Pangong Lake area, Jaishankar also stressed on the need for both sides to quickly resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh considering that once the disengagement is completed at all friction points, then the two sides could also look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards the restoration of peace and tranquility.