Border concerns dominate talks as India, China give fillip to trade, investment

By Sarkaritel September 19, 2014 10:59

Border concerns dominate talks as India, China give fillip to trade, investment

New Delhi, Sep 19  India’s concerns over Chinese troops’ incursions remained at the forefront of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping even as the two nations charted a new chapter in economic ties with Beijing announcing $20 billion investment over the next five years.

Addressing a joint media briefing after 90 minutes of restricted talks followed by delegation-level talks, Modi was candid in expressing India’s concerns over the latest incident of hundreds of Peoples’ Liberation Army troops entering Chumar in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh.

He said the border row should be resolved soon. A late night media report said the stand-off between the Indian and Chinese troops had ended with both withdrawing to their respective positions. However, it could not be confirmed.

Modi also suggested that clarifications on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) “would be of use” in solving the festering border question.

Expressing “serious concern over repeated incidents along the border”, he said: “We agreed that peace and tranquility in the border region constitutes an essential foundation for mutual trust and confidence and for realizing the full potential of our relationship.

“I also suggested that clarification of Line of Actual Control would greatly contribute to our efforts to maintain peace and tranquility and requested President Xi to resume the stalled process of clarifying the LAC. We should also seek an early settlement of the boundary question.

“This is an important understanding, which should be observed diligently,” he added.

India and China disagree over demarcation of large chunks of their over-4,000 km-long boundary, especially in the western sector with Chinese troops repeatedly entering Indian territory.

The stand-off is resolved through established border mechanisms. The two countries last year inked a special border mechanism to resolve such disputes.

Xi said both sides have agreed to “continue to be sensitive and respectful to each others’ sensitivities and concerns and progressively handle the outstanding issues in a positive attitude”.

But he reiterated the Chinese position that the boundary question is “left over from history” and both sides have made progress in maintaining peace and tranquillity there.

Referring to the latest incursion by hundreds of Chinese troops in Chumar, Xi said: “Since the boundary is yet to be demarcated, sometimes there could be instances (of transgressions) and both sides are fully capable to manage to resolve the issues through border-related mechanism so that such incidents have little impact on ties.”

He said China would work with “friendly determination” with India to settle the boundary question at an early date and for a peaceful, tranquil border.

Underlining that resolving the border issue is imperative to economic growth, Modi said: “… a climate of mutual trust and confidence; respect for each other’s sensitivities and concerns; and, peace and stability in our relations and along our borders are essential for us to realize the enormous potential in our relations.

“If we achieve that, we can reinforce each other’s economic growth. We can contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in our region. And, we can give new direction and energy to the global economy.”

President Pranab Mukherjee also touched on the border issue in his speech at the banquet for Xi.

“Our nations share a desire for early resolution of the outstanding issues between our states – including the boundary question.

“We are both committed to the maintenance of peace and tranquility at our borders; we both would like to ensure that the dialogue mechanisms that we have created for this purpose are error-proof.”

Referring to the border problem during his address at the Indian Council of World Affairs here, Xi said both sides should resolve the boundary question “and seek a fair, reasonable solution at an early date. And in the meantime, India and China should not allow the boundary problem to affect their bilateral economic ties.”

“We should not just focus on our differences and forget our friendship and cooperation and let it stand in the way of our development, cooperation,” he said.

Modi also said that in keeping with Xi’s hope expressed here on taking the bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership to a higher plane, India will open talks on civil nuclear energy cooperation with China.

“On civil nuclear cooperation we are taking some steps that will take energy cooperation to a new level,” he said.

India also expressed “concern” over China’s contentious visa policy and trans-border rivers.

He said Beijing supports “India’s aspiration for a bigger role” in the UN Security Council (UNSC) and is willing to support India’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and in return, expects India to help it in building relations in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Both sides gave a fillip to their economic and trade ties by inking 16 agreements, including one that will see China investing $20 billion in India’s infrastructure sector over five years.

China has also assured greater access to Indian goods.

Modi said he had outlined India’s concerns over the trade imbalance and been assured that Beijing would take concrete steps on the issue.

By Sarkaritel September 19, 2014 10:59