Amid rising tensions between India and China, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday and the two sides reached a five-point agreement, including quick disengagement of troops.
According to a joint press statement, the two ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. “They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” the statement said.
Jaishankar and Wang Yi also agreed that both sides shall abide by the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
The five-point consensus also includes taking “guidance from the series of consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes”.
The two sides, the statement said, agreed to continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the boundary question and the ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new confidence building measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
Jaishankar and Wang Yi met in Moscow on the sidelines of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Their talks come after a meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe in Moscow on Friday on the sidelines of a SCO meet.
Wang Yi noted that it is normal for India and China to have differences as two neighbouring major countries. “What is important is to put these differences in a proper context vis-a-vis bilateral relations,” state-run Xinhua quoted him as saying.
Wang, according to the report, said that as two large developing countries emerging rapidly, what China and India need right now is cooperation, not confrontation; and mutual trust, not suspicion. “Whenever the situation gets difficult, it is all the more important to ensure the stability of the overall relationship and preserve mutual trust,” he said, according to Xinhua.
State-run Global Times quoted Chinese experts are saying that the five-point consensus “marked a substantial step in cooling down the current border situation” and creating favourable conditions for a possible future meeting between the leaders of the two countries.
The report, however, said the experts warned that the successful implementation of the joint statement depends on whether India can truly keep its word. “Given the country’s history, it is possible that the joint statement will end up as merely ‘paper talk’,” they were quoted as saying.
Second meeting between the two sides
This is the second highest level bilateral political talks in less than a week.
Wei Fenghi had sought a meeting with Singh on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meet last week, days after both the countries accused each other of engaging in provocative actions along the Line of Actual Control and India banned 118 more apps with Chinese links.
Indian analysts had then warned against China’s doublespeak. Sriparna Pathak, Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean in the Jindal School of International Affairs, had told HuffPost India that China sought a meeting with Singh to assuage the situation and go back to a situation where the Indian market accepts Chinese goods and apps.
“Chinese diplomatic doublespeak is something India needs to guard against,” she had said.
In the meeting between the defence ministers, Singh had said that the “actions of Chinese troops, including amassing of large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements and not in keeping with the understandings reached between the Special Representatives of two sides.”
Wei Fenghe had claimed that India bears full responsibility for the tensions along the border and “Chinese military has determination, capability and confidence to safeguard China’s territorial integrity,” according to state-run Global Times.
(With PTI inputs)