New Delhi: Visiting external affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Monday termed Chinese concerns as “misplaced” on the formation of Ladakh as a separate Union territory with boundaries upto (Chinese-occupied) Aksai Chin, saying New Delhi “was not raising any additional territorial claims” and that “there was no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China”. This, in essence, means that India continues to only claim territory that it has always claimed, and regarded as its integral part like Aksai Chin and that the area of the two new Union territories is the same as that of the combined J&K state which was bifurcated. New Delhi also conveyed that the bifurcation of J&K and revoking of Article 370 “was an internal matter for India … related to changes in a temporary provision of the Constitution of India and was the sole prerogative of the country”. Mr Jaishankar also clearly told the Chinese side in Beijing that “the future of the India-China relationship will obviously depend on mutual sensitivity to each other’s core concerns”, and that “properly managing differences is therefore vital”, adding that “differences should not become disputes”.
Beijing was also clearly told it “should base its assessment on realities” in so far as India-Pakistan ties are concerned, a clear message that China should not side with Pakistan. Mr Jaishankar also told Beijing that the Indian government’s recent move on J&K has “no bearing on Pakistan as it was an internal matter (of India)”, and that it “did not impact the Line of Control (LoC)”. China, on its part, according to reports from Beijing, said it is “very closely” watching the India-Pakistan tensions over Kashmir and its “ramifications”, and asked New Delhi to play a “constructive role” for regional peace and stability.
Mr Jaishankar, who is now on a crucial three-day visit to China, called on Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan, considered a confidant of President Xi Jinping, and later had restricted delegation-level talks with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, in which the “full gamut” of bilateral ties was discussed, “including the visit of President Xi Jinping to India for the second informal summit later this year” in India.
Mr Jaishankar also sought to assure China that “the two sides (India and China) had agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question on the basis of the 2005 Political Parameters and Guiding Principles”, adding that “the two armed forces” (Indian and Chinese) have already had “enhanced communication” and were implementing confidence-building measures. Beijing had recently objected to India bifurcating J&K state and carving out a Union territory of Ladakh. Recently, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had visited China, claimed Chinese support for the Pakistani stand on J&K.
In a statement from Beijing, the Indian government said: “During the bilateral meeting, the Chinese foreign minister (Wang Yi) also brought up developments pertaining to legislation passed recently by the Indian Parliament on Jammu & Kashmir. The EAM conveyed that this was an internal matter for India. The issue related to changes in a temporary provision of the Constitution of India and was the sole prerogative of the country. The legislative measures were aimed at promoting better governance and socio-economic development. There was no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. India was not raising any additional territorial claims. The Chinese concerns in this regard were therefore misplaced.”
New Delhi added: “The Chinese foreign minister also referred to rising tensions between India and Pakistan as a result of these changes. The EAM emphasised these changes had no bearing on Pakistan as it was an internal matter. It did not impact the LoC. Where India-Pakistan relations are concerned, the Chinese side should base its assessment on realities. India, as a responsible power, had shown restraint in face of provocative Pakistani rhetoric and actions.”
Five pacts meanwhile in various fields, including a “Plan of Action to Implement the Protocol on Cooperation in Bilateral Relations 2020”, was also inked.
Addressing members of the Indian and Chinese delegations for the second meeting of the India-China High-Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges, Mr Jaishankar emphasised that the “future of the India-China relationship will obviously depend on mutual sensitivity to each other’s core concerns”. In the presence of his Chinese counterpart, the minister added: “It is natural, both as neighbours and large developing economies that there would be issues in our ties. Properly managing differences is therefore vital.”
“When it comes to the recent tensions between India and Pakistan and the possible ramifications, we follow these developments very closely. We hope India would also play a constructive role for regional peace and stability,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi was quoted by news agencies as saying. Welcoming Mr Jaishankar, Mr Wang Yi was quoted as saying: “On the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, we can have mutually beneficial cooperation. This is in the fundamental interest and long-term interest of our two peoples and also contribute to world peace and human progress.”
On the discussions that took place, Mr Jaishankar was quoted as saying: “We discussed the full gamut of issues relating to views on the international situation, regional aspects and our very important bilateral relations.” He added: “Our discussions today were especially significant as we prepare for President Xi Jinping’s visit to India for the 2nd informal summit later this year and celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations next year.”