India, China For Early Resolution To Border Row

15 May 2015

Beijing: India and China today agreed to seek a 'political' solution to the border dispute at the earliest as Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Beijing to 'reconsider its approach on some issues' and announced CBMs like e-visa for Chinese tourists and operationalisation of hotline between two militaries. Modi, who held talks with his counterpart Li Keqiang, pushed for clarifying the Line of Actual Control (LAC) without 'prejudice to our position on the boundary question', saying 'a shadow of uncertainty always hangs over the sensitive areas of the border region' as 'neither side knows where the LAC is in these areas'. On the second day of his three-day visit, Modi and Li discussed a wide range of issues which also covered trade imbalance, terrorism, investment, climate change and UN reforms and coordination at international level during their 90-minute talks at the Great Hall of the People. Modi, ignoring concerns of intelligence agencies that e-visas for Chinese tourists may open the floodgates, announced that India will provide that facility. At a joint media interaction with Li, the Indian leader asked Beijing to 'reconsider its approach on some issues that hold us back', an apparent reference to the long-pending boundary issue matters like issuance of stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh over which China lays claim. Sources said Modi sent a clear and unambiguous message on the boundary issue, saying there was 'no question of going back' and 'standing still is also not an option'. The two sides decided to increase the number of border meeting points of their military personnel from the existing four to six as they underlined that maintenance of peace and tranquility on the border was an 'important guarantor' for the development and continued growth of ties. Noting that India and China have had 'complex' ties over the last few decades, Modi said the two nations have a 'historic responsibility' to turn their ties into 'a source of strength for each other and a force of good for the world.' He underlined that the two countries need to be 'sensitive to each other's interests' and 'think of creative solutions to issues that have become irritants - from visa policies to trans-border rivers'. Modi described his talks with Li as 'candid, constructive and friendly', covering 'all issues'. Li said China stands ready to work with India to jointly forge a 'closer developmental partnership'. In an address at the Tsinghua University later, Modi said, 'If we have to realise the extraordinary potential of our partnership, we must also address the issues that lead to hesitation and doubts, even distrust, in our relationship'. Noting that the bilateral agreements, protocols and border mechanisms have been helpful, he said, 'I have proposed resuming the process of clarifying the LAC. We can do this without prejudice to our position' on the boundary issue.' First, Modi said, 'we must try to settle the boundary question quickly. We both recognise that this is history's legacy. Resolving it is our shared responsibility to the future. We must move ahead with new purpose and determination.' Underlining that the 'solution we choose should do more than settle the boundary question', Modi said, 'It should do so in a manner that transforms our relationship and not cause new disruptions.' Modi emphasised that the border dispute should not prevent progress in India-China ties which have been 'complex' in the recent decades, a sentiment shared by Li. The joint statement said the Chinese side took note of India's aspirations to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), in a bid to strengthen international non-proliferation efforts. India has been pushing hard to get into the four export control regimes. The two sides signed 24 cooperation documents in the presence of the two leaders covering railways, mining, education, space, quality supervision and inspection, film and television, ocean, earthquake science and between political parties, think tanks and various localities of the two countries. Modi and Li agreed that simultaneous re-emergence of India and China as two major powers in the region and the world offers a momentous opportunity for realisation of the Asian Century. Both sides reiterated their strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and committed themselves to cooperate on counter-terrorism. They called for early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, the statement said. Meanwhile, Modi said both India and China face the threat of growing extremism and terrorism whose source 'is in the same region', in a veiled reference to terror networks in Pakistan. Modi, while addressing students at the Tsinghua University here, asserted that India and China face instability in their 'shared neighbourhood' that can threaten the security and slow down the economies of the two countries. 'The spreading tide of extremism and terrorism is a threat we both face; for both, its source is in the same region,' he said in an apparent reference to the cross-border terrorism faced by India and China originating in Pakistan. Terror strikes in India like the 26-11 Mumbai attacks have often been traced to Pakistan while unrest in China's Xinjiang province is many times linked to separatists trained in camps in Pakistan. 'We must also deal with the changing character of terrorism that has made it less predictable and more diffuse. We source a large part of our energy from the same region that faces instability and uncertain future,' Modi said. Modi, who also held wide-ranging bilateral talks with his counterpart Li Keqiang, said not only the bilateral cooperation between India and China is important but also their international partnership is crucial to each other's success. After talks between Modi and Xi, the two sides issued a joint statement which also made a reference to terrorism, strongly condemning it in all its forms. 'Both sides reiterated their strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and committed themselves to cooperate on counter-terrorism,' the joint statement said. 'They agreed that there is no justification for terrorism and urged all countries and entities to work sincerely to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing, and stop cross-border movement of terrorists, in accordance with the relevant principles and purposes of the UN Charter and international laws,' it said. India and China also called for an early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.